Must-Read: My view was always--and subsequent research over the past generation has only confirmed my view, at least as I read the research--that the disemployment effects of safety-net programs were vastly oversold. Those who are discouraged appeared to me to be people who also had so many family responsibilities that their participation was of zero or negative societal value in the first place. The underlying subconscious logic behind overselling disemployment effects seemed to me to be one of punishing the poor, and and punishing women who either became pregnant without marriage or who could not keep a man...

Jason Furman: Smart Social Programs: "Anna Aizer [et al.]... 16,000 children whose families applied for a temporary income-support program...

...that was in effect from 1911 to 1935.... The program resulted in more education, higher earnings and lower mortality. Social Security data were used to follow program beneficiaries until as late as 2012, allowing researchers to show that the benefits of receiving even a few years of assistance as a child could persist for 80 years or more. Although we do not have 100 years of follow-on data from today’s programs, recent research following children as they entered their 20s and 30s has produced similarly striking findings... the earned-income tax credit... child poverty... low birth weight, raise math and reading scores and boost college enrollment.... The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, has been shown to have similar benefits for child recipients that can last decades. Receiving Medicaid in childhood makes it substantially more likely that a child will graduate from high school and complete college and less likely that an African-American child will die.... For women, Medicaid participation in childhood is associated with increased earnings....

The benefits often are not captured by short-term outcomes like improvements in children’s test scores, which typically last only a few years before fading.... Second, while program design certainly matters — and can matter a lot — much of the benefit appears to derive from helping low-income families pay for basic needs.... In many cases, the additional tax revenue from the higher long-run earnings generated by the program is sufficient to repay much or even more than all of the initial cost.... Moreover, safety-net programs do not discourage work in any big way.... And child care and pre-K programs make it easier for parents to work in the first place...

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/opinion/smart-social-programs.html?_r=0

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