Urban Wire How can we reduce poverty and increase opportunity?
Donald Marron
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Throughout June, Urban Institute scholars  will offer evidence-based ideas for reducing poverty and increasing opportunity.

Persistent poverty and limited economic opportunity remain a challenge for far too many Americans. More than 48 million Americans, including one in six children, live in poverty, and that’s after accounting for programs like the earned income tax credit, housing subsidies, and food assistance. Only a third of people born near the bottom of the income ladder ever reach the middle rung.

How can we do better? Under Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership, House Republicans just released a blueprint for “reforming our welfare, workforce, and education programs” to “empower Americans to achieve the American Dream.” President Obama’s final budget emphasized “opportunity for all,” including efforts to improve education and training and increase the focus on employment in welfare programs. And many observers have been inspired by the 20th anniversary of 1996’s landmark welfare reform to reconsider how best to help people with low incomes.

Urban Institute scholars have examined these issues for decades, offering solutions to help people move up from poverty. From tackling persistent poverty in distressed urban areas to harnessing data to strengthen Head Start to supporting the child care and training needs of families striving to move from welfare to work, our scholars have worked to identify what works and what does not.

Throughout June, our scholars will build on that history by offering concrete solutions and strategies for reducing poverty and increasing opportunity. Each Urban Wire post will offer evidence-based ideas for how our nation can effectively tackle specific challenges, from improving the social safety net to building skills to giving kids a good start in life. We’ll draw upon our research and upon promising practices around the country.

We hope this series offers meaningful ideas for policies and efforts that can put more Americans on the path to economic security.

More posts in this series:


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The Urban Institute podcast, Evidence in Action, inspires changemakers to lead with evidence and act with equity. Co-hosted by Urban President Sarah Rosen Wartell and Executive Vice President Kimberlyn Leary, every episode features in-depth discussions with experts and leaders on topics ranging from how to advance equity, to designing innovative solutions that achieve community impact, to what it means to practice evidence-based leadership.


Research Areas Social safety net
Tags Poverty Asset and debts Wealth inequality Mobility Inequality and mobility
Policy Centers Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Research to Action Lab