The secret to escaping poverty is no secret at all, according to Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill in their new book Creating an Oportunity Society. Those who finish high school, work full time and marry before having children are virtually guaranteed a place in the middle class. Only about 2 percent of this group ends up in poverty.
They say that there are three things that the government could do to reduce poverty.
(1) Improve public education:
Expand pre-school programs, implement national achievement standards and establish more “paternalistic” charter schools.
Provide low-income and minority pupils with better college-prep services.
(2) Encourage work:
Enlarge the size and scope of the Child Tax Credit, increase child-care funding and bolster job-training programs.
Building on the successful Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and experiment with “EITC-type wage supplements” for workers who either don’t have children or don’t have custody of their children.
(3) Strengthen families:
Address a longstanding social crisis: the surge in non-marital births; in 2007, nearly 40 percent of all United States births were outside of marriage, up from 34 percent.
Last year, according to the Census Bureau, only 40 percent of African-American children lived with two parents, compared with 78 percent of non-Hispanic white children.