There is an important anti-poverty safety net for the United States

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Sociology ・MLA ・4 Sources

 The United States prides in numerous safety net programs that seek to fight or reduce poverty. The Social Security Act, which offers benefits to public health and aids dependent children, is the greatest safety net program in the United States (Bitler, Hilary and Elira 360). Similarly, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been found to significantly contribute to increases in birth weights, a benefit that has been linked to fewer hours worked. Correspondingly, Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) provides income for individuals aged 65 years and above, and to disabled children and adults. Additionally, as a nutrition program, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits young children, new mothers, and expectant mothers who are at nutritional risk by living near poverty (Bitler, Hilary and Elira 363). As a U.S. safety net, The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps pay for people health insurances. What is more, the program consents states to cover additional families with low income under Medicaid, by giving them federal corresponding funds, among other provisions (Bitler, Hilary and Elira 369). While some scholar argue that the U.S safety net anti-poverty programs are largely ineffective, the U.S safety net programs significantly impact on the families’ ability to stay afloat. To this end, the U.S anti-poverty safety net programs are effective since they successfully reduce poverty by not only raising families out of poverty, but also supporting larger economic growth and raising the economic mobility of individuals.

 The United States safety net, covering SNAP, SSI, ACA, WIC, and the Social Security Act, reduces poverty by strengthening the national economy and increasing the economic mobility. What is more, studies have established that the majority of these antipoverty programs provide a tremendous return on investment to taxpayers (Bitler, Hilary and Elira 367). Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), Danziger and Sandra reported that the safety net was approximately ten times more effective in decreasing poverty in 2014 compared to in 1967 (233). In 2014, the safety net programs decreased the figure of otherwise poor individuals by 43%, as opposed to in 1967 where the number of otherwise poor population was cut by about 5% (Danziger and Sandra 233).

 Social security has been cited as the most effective program of antipoverty in the U.S. According to Ben-Shalom, Robert and John, without the program, more than 26 million people, representing  8.3% of Americans, would fall below poverty threshold as determined by Supplemental Poverty Measure (34). In view of Ben-Shalom, Robert and John, the Earned Income Tax Credit has managed to keep 8 million people in America (equivalent to 3%) above the SPM poverty threshold (35). An analysis by Bitler, Hilary and Elira demonstrated that that taking safety net programs into account, the rate of poverty in the U.S  dropped from 25% to 15% from 1967 to 2012 (371). This translates into a reduction of over one third. The implication is that safety net programs have succeeded in raising families out of poverty.

 The relationship between the rate of poverty and the business cycle further demonstrates that anti-poverty programs in the U.S are successful in reducing poverty, and hence effective. If the safety nets did not have a positive impact on the level of poverty, then it would be expected that the rate of poverty would narrowly track the business cycle by falling or rising in accordance to the changes in the rate of employment. However, Bitler, Hilary and Elira reported that in spite of the unemployment levels at the times of great recession, the level of poverty increased by only 0.6 percentage points (378).  The implication is that the safety net eliminates cyclic fluctuations in situations of deep poverty.

 On the opposing side, Meyer and Nikolas argue that the anti-poverty programs in the United States are not only counterproductive but also ineffectual (13). Citing SNAP, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as ineffective, they contend that these anti-poverty programs decrease participation in labor-force by discouraging work, thereby putting program partakers to a life of poverty (Meyer and Nikolas 15). However, the researchers provide little evidence to support their claim that safety net considerably decrease labor participation, if at all. Rather, their biased review is riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations of other people’s work. What is more, the report banks on a blend of overlooking relevant studies, overstating the evidence, and misrepresenting research to argue that safety net generate a poverty trap.

 Overall, much as some scholars may argue that the U.S safety net anti-poverty programs are largely ineffective, these safety net programs considerably reduce poverty levels among households. The anti-poverty safety net programs are hence effective since they successfully reduce poverty by not only raising households out of poverty, but also backing larger economic growth and raising the economic mobility of persons. Much as policies may negatively impact on labor participation, the outcome is often slight and has an extremely limited impact on levels of poverty. A comprehensive analysis of literature demonstrates that the U.S safety net strengthens the economy and reduces poverty.  To make the U.S safety net even more effective, the goal of the antipoverty efforts should be to help low-income individuals attain sufficient earrings. Other than just providing for their material wants, welfare programs should endeavor to help poor Americans rise up the economic ladder.

Works Cited

Ben-Shalom, Yonatan, Robert A. Moffitt, and John Karl Scholz. An assessment of the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs in the United States. No. w17042. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2011.

Bitler, Marianne, Hilary Hoynes, and Elira Kuka. "Child Poverty, the Great Recession, and the Social Safety Net in the United States." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 36.2 (2017): 358-389.

Danziger, Sheldon, and Sandra K. Danziger. "The US social safety net and poverty." Poverty and poverty alleviation strategies in North America 26 (2009): 233.

Meyer, Bruce D., and Nikolas Mittag. Using linked survey and administrative data to better measure income: Implications for poverty, program effectiveness and holes in the safety net. No. w21676. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015.

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