In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson founded the Urban Institute to “help solve the problem that weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of all of us—the problem of the American city and its people.” Early attempts to alleviate inner-city poverty and urban unrest were often stabs in the dark without a clear understanding of who would be affected and how. Among Urban’s first contributions was a microsimulation tool that forecasted the combined effects of federal antipoverty programs on family well-being. How did cash benefits, food stamps, tax credits, and other subsidies interact? And how successful were these policies at lifting families out of poverty? Since then, Urban Institute researchers have developed a portfolio of microsimulation models on taxes, health insurance, retirement security, and other issues. Each is built to predict how people, communities, and spending will be affected by proposed policy reforms—giving policymakers crucial information to better shape and target solutions.
The War on Poverty