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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Children Youth and  Families
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Committee on Building an Agenda to Reduce the Number of Children in Poverty by Half in 10 Years


Statement of Task

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee of experts to conduct a consensus study of the costs of child poverty in the United States and the effectiveness of current efforts aimed at reducing poverty. The committee will review available high-quality research on current programs, with emphasis on evaluations that include benefit-cost analysis. Based on these analyses the committee will make recommendations for federal investment aimed at reducing the number of children living in poverty in the United States by half within 10 years. The committee will address five specific charges:

1. Briefly review and synthesize the available research on the macro- and micro-economic, health, and social costs of child poverty, with attention to linkages between child poverty and health, education, employment, crime, and child well-being.

2. Briefly assess current international, federal, state, and local efforts to reduce child poverty. The committee will provide an analysis of the poverty-reducing effects of existing major assistance programs directed at children and families in the United States, as well as relevant programs developed in other industrialized countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. In reviewing the evaluation literature, the committee will:
i. Consider impacts on poverty as defined by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) and SPM-based measures of deep poverty (50 percent of the SPM threshold) and near poverty (100-150 percent of the SPM threshold);
ii. Consider the distribution of poverty-reducing impacts across demographic groups as defined by such characteristics as race and ethnicity, rural or urban location, immigrant status, age of parent, and age of child (distinguishing impacts on children under age 6);
iii. Consider indirect behavioral responses by families to these programs that may influence their poverty-reducing effects (such as extent to which the Earned Income Tax Credit creates incentives to increase earnings); and
iv. Describe, to the extent possible, the characteristics of families and children who remain poor despite these programs.

3. Identify policies and programs with the potential to help reduce child poverty and deep poverty (measured using the SPM) by 50 percent within 10 years of the implementation of the policy approach. The committee may consider existing federal programs as well as innovative new programs developed in states and localities or in other countries (e.g. the United Kingdom and Canada). The scope of the programs considered will be broad. In addition to traditional anti-poverty programs such as cash transfers, food and nutrition programs, and housing programs, the committee may consider, for example, income support, family planning programs, work support programs (e.g., guaranteed jobs and child care subsidies), health insurance programs, foster youth programs, juvenile and adult justice programs, and education and training programs. The committee will consider expansions to existing federal programs as well as the possibility of developing new ones.

4. For the programs the committee identifies as having strong potential to reduce child poverty, the committee will provide analysis in a format that will allow federal policy makers to identify and assess potential combinations of policy investments that can best meet their policy objectives. For each option the committee will indicate:
i. estimated impact in reducing poverty and deep poverty, using the SPM;
ii. distribution of poverty-reducing impacts across demographic groups and across groups at different levels of poverty: those at the poverty level; those in deep poverty (family income 50 percent or less of the poverty level); and those in near poverty (family income up to 150 percent of the poverty level);
iii. sensitivity of the impacts of the policy or program to economic conditions;
iv. confidence intervals around the estimate of likely impact, even if qualitatively judged;
v. annual cost and estimated 10-year poverty reduction effect of implementing the program at scale, with costs and potential poverty reductions estimated for different spending levels;
vi. other possible benefits to government and society, such as improvements in child health, education, welfare, etc.
To the extent possible, the committee will also identify combinations of programs that may result in synergies or redundancies, in terms of either the programs’ effects or the populations targeted.

5. Identify key, high-priority research gaps the filling of which would significantly advance the knowledge base for developing policies to reduce child poverty in the United States and assessing their impacts.

Project Deliverable
The committee will produce a consensus report that synthesizes the information gathered on the social and economic costs of child poverty and the effectiveness of policy and programmatic efforts to reduce child poverty and makes recommendations regarding policy options for reducing child poverty by half within 10 years.

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Meetings of the Committee

April 24-25, 2017
Closed to public

June 20, 2017
 Information gathering event to be open to the public

June 21-22, 2017 
Closed to public 

August 17-18, 2017 
Closed to public 

October 12-13, 2017 
Closed to public 

February 1-2, 2018
Closed to public 


Activity Information

Type: Consensus Study

Topics: Children, Youth, and Families; Education, Workforce

Board: Board on Children, Youth, and
    Families (Lead);
Collaborating Board: Committee on
    National Statistics



Staff Information

Suzanne Le Menestrel, Ph.D., Study
Rebekah Hutton, MA, Associate
   Program Officer

Pamella Atayi, BA, Program



Committee Members

Greg Duncan, Ph.D. (Chair)
Distinguished Professor
School of Education
University of California, Irvine

J. Lawrence Aber, Ph.D.
Willner Family Professor of Psychology
   and Public Policy
New York University

Janet Currie, Ph.D.
Henry Putnam Professor of Economics
   and Policy Affairs
Chair, Department of Economics
Director, Center for Health and
Princeton University

Benard P. Dreyer, M.D., FAAP
Professor of Pediatrics
Director of Developmental-Behavioral
New York University School of
Director of Pediatrics, Bellevue
   Hospital Center

Irwin Garfinkel, Ph.D.
Mitchell I. Ginsberg Professor of
   Contemporary Urban Problems
Interim Dean, Columbia University
   School of Social Work
Columbia University

Hilary Hoynes, Ph.D.
Professor of Public Policy and
Haas Distinguished Chair of
   Economic Disparities
University of California, Berkeley

Christine James-Brown, B. A.
President & CEO
Child Welfare League of America

Vonnie C. McLoyd, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
University of Michigan

Robert Moffitt, Ph.D.
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor
   of Economics
Johns Hopkins University

Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D.
Director, Center of Health and Social
Director, Child and Research
Associate Professor of Public Affairs
University of Texas at Austin

Eldar Shafir, Ph.D.
Class of 1987, Professor of Behavioral
   Science and Public Policy
Princeton University

Timothy (Tim) Smeeding, Ph.D.
Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor
   of Public Affairs and Economics
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don Winstead, Jr., B.A.
Principal and Founder
Don Winstead Consulting, LLC



Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Foundation for Child Development
Marguerite Casey Foundation
The Buffet Early Childhood Fund



For more information, contact:

   Pamella Atayi

Phone: (202) 334-1996

Mailing Address

Keck Center

500 Fifth Street, NW

Washington, DC 20001



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