by Robert Doar
American Enterprise Institute
June 18, 2014
The War on Poverty alleviated poverty among some populations, but failed in others. The economic status and outlook for low-income Americans is not as strong as it could be or as it should be. New York City’s experience over the last decade suggests that work-first and pro-work public assistance programs, combined with pro-growth economic policies, are most effective at helping poor Americans. To expand opportunity for economically vulnerable working-age Americans, policymakers should require work as a condition of means-tested public assistance, reward work with robust supports for those working at low wages, and foster two-parent married families. In practice, this means mitigating marriage penalties embedded in means-tested welfare programs and informing the public about the challenges of raising children in single-parent families. It means implementing targeted programs for young men in low-income communities and offering relocation assistance for the unemployed, helping the most badly-suffering Americans discover opportunities to work.

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