Poverty, the macroeconomy, and unions : measurement matters

Martinez, Liliana
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Duchin, Faye, 1944-
Shawhan, Daniel L.
Gowdy, John M.
Bennett, Kristin P.
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Ecological economics
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International studies support the notion that higher welfare generosity is the key policy approach to reducing poverty even more so than macroeconomic growth. On the other hand, the US poverty literature has generally found macroeconomic conditions to be central, and welfare benefits to play little to no role in reducing poverty over time. Such ideas have likely played a part in the drastic reformation of welfare assistance from simply a social safety net to a tool to move poor individuals into work. For example, reforms include strict time limits on benefits, requiring active job search or training, and supplementing wages with an "earned income tax credit." Amoung industrialized countries the US has been shown to be an outlier for its low level of welfare generosity and high levels of poverty. Relying on work, and therefore the macroeconomy, as the main force to reduce poverty necessitates a careful understanding of how poverty relates to the macroeconomy. Can jobs reliably provide people with enough income to escape poverty?
August 2014
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy Program
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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