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Safety Net Investments in Children (WP-18-25)

Hilary W. Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

In this paper, the researchers examine what groups of children are served by core childhood social safety net programs—including Medicaid, EITC, CTC, SNAP, and AFDC/TANF—and how that’s changed over time. They find that virtually all gains in spending on the social safety net for children since 1990 have gone to families with earnings, and to families with income above the poverty line. This is the result of welfare reform and the expansion of in work tax credits. The researchers review the available research and find that access to safety net programs during childhood leads to benefits for children and society over the long run. This evidence suggests that the changes to the social safety net may have lasting negative impacts on the poorest children.

Hilary W. Hoynes, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, University of California, Berkeley

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Margaret Walker Alexander Professor and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

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