NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 7, 2009

There are three things government can do to reduce inequality in America, say Brookings Institution scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill, in their new book, "Creating an Opportunity Society."

 Improve public education:

  • Expand pre-school programs, implement national achievement standards and establish more "paternalistic" charter schools.
  • Provide low-income and minority pupils with better college-prep services.

Encourage work:

  • Enlarge the size and scope of the Child Tax Credit, increase child-care funding and bolster job-training programs.
  • Building on the successful Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and experiment with "EITC-type wage supplements" for workers who either don't have children or don't have custody of their children.

Strengthen families:

  • Address a longstanding social crisis: the surge in non-marital births; in 2007, nearly 40 percent of all United States births were outside of marriage, up from 34 percent.
  • Last year, according to the Census Bureau, only 40 percent of African-American children lived with two parents, compared with 78 percent of non-Hispanic white children.

The secret to escaping poverty is no secret at all, say Haskins and Sawhill.  Those who finish high school, work full time and marry before having children are virtually guaranteed a place in the middle class.  Only about 2 percent of this group ends up in poverty.

All told, Haskins and Sawhill estimate that the combined price tag for their smorgasbord of policies would be just north of $20.5 billion.  Not so long ago, that was considered a lot of money; but not in today's Washington, with its mega-bailouts, $787 billion stimulus packages, and trillion-dollar health-care legislation, says the National Review.                                                                  

Source: Duncan Currie, "The Mobility Agenda," National Review, December 7, 2009.


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