Welfare, Inequality, and Poverty

LBJ’s Great Society Won the War on Poverty

In 1964, speaking at the University of Michigan, President Lyndon Johnson called for the U.S. to become a “great society.” That term came to be synonymous with the Johnson administration’s raft of antipoverty programs, sometimes known as the War on Poverty. The Great Society initiative led to the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the modern […]

How Poverty Ends

For all the worries today about the explosion of inequality in rich countries, the last few decades have been remarkably good for the world’s poor. Between 1980 and 2016, the average income of the bottom 50 percent of earners nearly doubled, as this group captured 12 percent of the growth in global GDP. The number […]

Economic Security Programs Cut Poverty Nearly in Half Over Last 50 Years

Using a version of the federal government’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) — a more comprehensive metric than the official poverty measure — we calculate that the poverty rate has fallen by nearly half since 1967, largely due to the growing effectiveness of economic security programs such as Social Security, food assistance, and tax credits for […]

It’s Not Just Poor White People Driving a Decline in Life Expectancy

As the life expectancy of Americans has declined over a period of three years — a drop driven by higher death rates among people in the prime of life — the focus has been on the plight of white Americans in rural areas who were dying from so-called deaths of despair: drug overdoses, alcoholism and […]

Helping workers requires more than silver bullets

To improve workers’ skills, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren call for free college for all. To raise wages, many call for a rapid increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as well as resurgent unionism. And Andrew Yang continues to call for “universal basic income” in response to potentially large-scale job displacement […]