What can you do to reduce poverty and inequality in the United States? Here, we review some of the more popular pragmatic approaches to reducing poverty and inequality, many of them already implemented as large-scale experiments, privately funded programs, or local, state, or federal initiatives.
We have distinguished between approaches that (1) increase access to credit and savings, (2) increase access to schooling and training, (3) rest on changes in macroeconomic policy, (4) rest on changes in non-economic institutions, or (5) are oriented toward immediate relief to those in need.
Building Economic Capital
- Microlending. Developing new markets for credit as a poverty-reduction strategy.
- Savings and Individual Development Accounts. Providing poor people with the same incentives for saving now enjoyed by the middle class.
Building Human Capital
- Early Interventions. Pre-school assistance to disadvantaged families.
- Access to High-Quality Schooling. Making high-quality schooling equally available to all.
- General Training Programs. Providing workers with the skills that new or expanding occupations and industries require.
- Soft-Skill Training Programs. Training in job search, interviewing, and interacting.
- Immigrant Integration. Formal training in English language for new immigrants.
Changing Economic Policy
- Monetary Policy. Changing monetary policy to generate more employment.
- Minimum Wage. Raising the minimum wage.
- Earned Income Tax Credit. Expanding or changing one of our main policy tools for reducing poverty in the United States.
Other Institutional Changes
- Subsidized Child Care. Subsidizing child care for single mothers.
- Health Care. Providing better access to quality, affordable health care.
- Unions. Revising laws governing the formation of unions.
- Prisons. Reforms in sentencing and incarceration policy.
- Spatial Segregation. Reducing the clustering of poor families into a small number of poverty-intensive neighborhoods with poor schools, few jobs, and few positive role models.
- Job Searching and Matching. Providing the poor with better information on employment opportunities.