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Anti Poverty Programs

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Economics

Before we begin talking about anti-poverty programs, let's discuss what poverty means. Poverty is when someone is poor and does not have the funds/resources to afford basic needs. An example of this would be someone who is homeless and living on the streets. But what programs are in place to help those who are suffering from poverty? We'll discuss anti-poverty programs and their histories, issues with these programs, the benefits of these programs, and the importance of having them. Interested? Let's dive in!

Anti poverty programs definition and importance

An anti-poverty program is a program that is designed to keep people from falling into or living in poverty, and/or to help lessen the amount of hardship they are in. These programs are important because they help in the fight against poverty by recognizing and addressing the various parts that make up poverty. There are many different sections that anti-poverty programs focus on, such as those that focus on:

  • Ending child poverty
  • Improving child education
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Paid medical leave
  • Helping avoid food insecurity
  • Rental assistance

An anti-poverty program is a program created to keep people from falling into poverty and to help those who are currently living in poverty.

Poverty is the state of being poor and not being able to afford basic needs.

Anti Poverty Programs A homeless person in the US StudySmarterA homeless person in the US, pixabay.com

Six types of antipoverty programs

The six types of antipoverty programs in the U.S. are outlined below.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security

While the Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for both programs, there are key differences between SSI and Social Security. Social Security is for those who worked long enough to receive retirement benefits in the form of monthly payments. It is also the largest anti-poverty program used in the United States today. SSI on the other hand is for those who are either disabled or over the age of 65 and are low-income or limited-income.

Anti Poverty Programs: SNAP

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It's also known as the Food Stamp Program. It is for those who are low-income to purchase food items, with the main goal of helping reduce food insecurity.

Anti Poverty Programs: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

This program is for women who are low-income and either pregnant or breastfeeding. It's also allowed for children under 5 years of age. It is designed to ensure that low-income women and children have access to nutritious food and access to nutrition counseling.

Anti Poverty Programs: Section 8

In the US, this is a payment given to landlords for housing assistance for the sake of low-income families. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old and with an income 50% less than the median income in your area. Those who have preferences are those who are disabled and elderly.

Anti Poverty Programs: HeadStart

This is a program for the development of children up until age 5 from low-income families. It seeks to prepare them for school. It provides free education, free childcare, free healthcare, and free dental care.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

TANF was created to provide welfare for a limited period of time to families who need assistance. It's temporary with a limit of 2 years of benefits at a time and 5 years total within a lifetime. It's to help families prepare to have jobs and to be less dependent on the welfare system.

Welfare is financial aid that is given to poor, low-income families depending on their needs.

History of U.S. Antipoverty Programs

Let's discuss the history of anti-poverty programs, starting from the New Deal in the 1930s to the present day.

Anti Poverty Programs: The New Deal

In March of 1933 in the first acts of his presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal which was created to get Americans out of The Great Depression. He passed several relief programs such as emergency and work relief programs, agricultural relief for farmers, and laws that forced bank reform. The first New Deal lasted about a year from 1933 to 1934. Then the second New Deal (which included Social Security) launched in 1935 and lasted until 1939. This not only helped better the lives of those who were greatly affected by The Great Depression but also established a precedent for the involvement of the government regarding the economic and social conditions of the United States.

Bank reforms are changes made within the banking system in order to improve it and confront any weaknesses.

The Great Depression took place from 1929 to 1939. It was the most terrible economic drop in history as far as the developed world was concerned. In October of 1929, the stock market crashed which shook all of Wall Street. Millions lost their jobs right after the crash with the number rising to about 15 million unemployed by 19331. People didn't trust the banks anymore and were demanding their deposits be given to them in cash. Banks couldn't afford to keep up with everyone withdrawing their funds, so half of the US banks ended up shutting down.

Anti Poverty Programs: War on Poverty

Due to a jump in poverty in the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a "war on poverty" in 1964 and signed a poverty bill known as the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA).

Anti Poverty Programs President Lyndon B Johnson sitting at his desk with people around him StudySmarterPresident Lyndon B. Johnson, Source: Wikimedia

This was designed to allow federal finances to be used in programs to fight poverty. He believed that the government had to take a larger role in health care and education specifically as a way to improve the lives of low-income families. Many of the programs created and used during this time (such as the Food Stamps program) are the same ones we see used today. The only differences tend to be name changes, different eligibility requirements, or durations of the benefits.

Anti Poverty Programs: PRWORA

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA) was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996. With this, his hope was to change the way welfare was being used. After this law came into effect, there were new eligibility requirements for certain programs, and each state was given more power in managing the programs. There were also new limits on benefits, with many having a 5-year limit for the person's lifetime.

Antipoverty programs in the U.S: Issues

There are a few issues when it comes to the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs in the U.S.

Anti Poverty Programs: They're focusing on the wrong goal

Instead of focusing on helping people and their families succeed, the main goal that is focused on is eliminating poverty. If the focus is not on the development of the people and is instead on simply eliminating poverty, then we have learned nothing from past mistakes and those who are in poverty will remain in poverty.

Anti Poverty Programs: The programs are not sustainable

Charity organizations tend to carry out projects in poor communities to assist them and help them have food, water, and/or education. The issue comes when after the work is done, there is no way for the people there to do the upkeep. For example, if a nonprofit build a school in a poor community, how is the community supposed to pay for the electric bill? Pay the teachers? Pay for any repairs that need to be done to the school? The community barely has enough money for themselves let alone for repairs and upkeep of a school.

Anti Poverty Programs: The issues are too specific

For the most part, charities tend to pick one thing to help change in poor communities. This thing might be helping the community get access to water or to food. But the issue is that when these nonprofits focus solely on one issue, they seem to put every other issue on the back burner. They focus on a small detail and by doing so they miss the big picture. Poverty is not just hunger, thirst, or lack of education. It's a combination of all of these issues and more. By focusing on only one issue, those in poverty don't get helped enough to make a long-term difference. While it definitely is still nice and valuable to help feed and educate those in poverty, by doing everything separately the nonprofit is actually not doing as much of a service to the community as they believe.

Antipoverty programs in the U.S: Strategies

There are generally two strategies that are used to help those who are in poverty. These strategies are:

  • Giving those who are in poverty money directly1

  • Providing those who are in poverty with services1

Anti Poverty Programs: Giving money directly

This is usually done in the form of tax credits, benefits, or by raising the minimum wage. The purpose is to put more income in the hands of those who are in poverty and who need it most.

Those defending this strategy hold the belief that one of the best ways to increase the incomes of those who are in poverty is to physically give them more income. One of the issues with this approach is that to make a big enough difference in the amount of poverty, a significant amount of money would have to be distributed. This could be problematic as it might mean higher taxes for all to help the poor and not everyone in society might be willing to pay the higher taxes to assist.

A tax credit is a certain amount of money that a taxpayer subtracts from the amount of money they owe the government.

Anti Poverty Programs: Providing services

This strategy focuses less on giving money to those who are low-income and instead focuses on providing essential services. While not making those who are low-income any poorer or richer necessarily, this strategy has a goal of reducing poverty by getting rid of the parallels between low-income families and issues such as health, education, and housing.

So what would this look like? Well, some examples would be moving children from unsafe neighborhoods to safer ones with access to better schooling, providing more college aid, and universal health care.

Antipoverty Programs - Key takeaways

  • An anti-poverty program is a program created to keep people from falling into poverty and to help those who are currently living in poverty.
  • Poverty is the state of being poor and not being able to afford basic needs.
  • Social Security is the largest anti-poverty program used in the United States.
  • SSI and Social Security, SNAP, WIC, Section 8, HeadStart, and TANF are the main anti-poverty programs used in the US.
  • The Great Depression was the most terrible economic drop in history as far as the developed world is concerned
  • By focusing on the wrong goal, having unsustainable programs, and being too specific with assistance, these anti-poverty programs are reducing their effectiveness at ending poverty.
  • A tax credit is a certain amount of money that a taxpayer subtracts from the amount of money they owe the government.
  • Giving money directly and providing services are the two main strategies for helping reduce poverty.

Source:

1. Elia Kacapyr, Barron's AP Microeconomics/Macroeconomics, 2018

2. Columbia School of Social Work, Anti-Poverty Policies and Programs, 2021

Anti Poverty Programs

The largest anti-poverty program in the United States is Social Security.

It works by determining who is eligible to receive particular types of aid and then distributing that aid either in the form of benefits or services.

They're focusing on the wrong goal, they're not sustainable, and they pick specific issues to focus on which makes them miss the big picture on what the impoverished fully need to escape poverty. 

The strategies are to either give money directly to those who are in poverty or are low-income in order to increase their income, or provide services. 

First was the New Deal, then the War on Poverty, and finally the PRWORA. 

Final Anti Poverty Programs Quiz

Question

Define poverty.

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Answer

Poverty is the state of being poor and not being able to afford basic needs.

Show question

Question

Define anti-poverty program.

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Answer

An anti-poverty program is a program created to keep people from falling into poverty and to help those who are currently living in poverty.

Show question

Question

Define welfare.

Show answer

Answer

Welfare is financial aid that is given to poor, low-income families depending on their needs.

Show question

Question

Define bank reform.

Show answer

Answer

Bank reforms are changes made within the banking system in order to improve it and confront any weaknesses.

Show question

Question

Define tax credit.


Show answer

Answer

A tax credit is a certain amount of money that a taxpayer subtracts from the amount of money they owe the government.

Show question

Question

Name at least 3 of the main anti-poverty programs used in the United States.

Show answer

Answer

  • SSI / Social Security
  • SNAP
  • WIC
  • Section 8
  • HeadStart
  • TANF 

Show question

Question

Who launched the New Deal?

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Answer

President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal in 1933. 

Show question

Question

What was the Great Depression?

Show answer

Answer

It was the most terrible economic drop in history as far as the developed world was concerned. It lasted 10 years from 1929-1939.

Show question

Question

Who declared a "war on poverty" in 1964?

Show answer

Answer

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty in 1964 due to a high rate of unemployment. 

Show question

Question

What was the EOA?

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Answer

The EOA, or the Economic Opportunity Act, was a bill created by President Lyndon B. Johnson that put more responsibility on the government to take a larger role in healthcare, education, and well-being of the people, especially those who are low-income. 

Show question

Question

What act did President Bill Clinton pass in 1996? 

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Answer

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA). The goal of this was was to change the way welfare was being used.

Show question

Question

What are the three main issues anti-poverty programs have?

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Answer

  • They're focusing on the wrong goal
  • The programs aren't sustainable
  • The issues are too specific

Show question

Question

What are the two strategies the US uses in order to assist those who are impoverished? 

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Answer


  • Giving those who are in poverty money directly

  • Providing those who are in poverty with services

Show question

Question

What's the largest anti-poverty program in the United States?

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Answer

Social Security is the largest anti-poverty program in the United States!

Show question

Question

Why are anti-poverty programs important?

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Answer

These programs are important because they help in the fight against poverty by recognizing and addressing the various parts that make up poverty.

Show question

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