Mark Rank, Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare
In a study published in Social Work Research, we determined that childhood poverty cost the nation $1.03 trillion in 2015. This number represented 5.4 percent of the G.D.P. Impoverished children grow up possessing fewer skills and are thus less able to contribute to the productivity of the economy. They are also more likely to experience frequent health care problems and to engage in crime. These costs are borne by the children themselves, but ultimately by the wider society as well.
An even clearer way of gauging the magnitude of these costs is to compare their total with the total amount of federal spending in 2015. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government spent $3.7 trillion that year, meaning that the annual cost of childhood poverty represented 28 percent of the entire federal budget.
Equally important, we calculated what the cost savings would be for poverty reduction. Our analysis indicated that for each dollar spent on reducing childhood poverty, the country would save at least $7 with respect to the economic costs of poverty.
The bottom line is that reducing poverty is justified not only from a social justice perspective, but from a cost-benefit perspective as well.
Read the full piece in The New York Times.
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