Poverty prospects higher than expected

For Americans, the likelihood of experiencing relative poverty at least once in their lifetime is surprisingly high, finds a new study from noted poverty expert Mark Rank, PhD, professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

In search of the American Dream

Is the American Dream slipping away? Maybe, says Mark R. Rank, PhD, one of the country’s foremost experts on inequality and social justice. “More than at any time in our past,” Rank says, “there are serious questions regarding the American Dream and its applicability to everyday people.” Rank’s new book, “Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes” (Oxford University Press 2014) is out.

Nurturing may protect kids from brain changes linked to poverty

Researchers at the School of Medicine have identified changes in the brains of children growing up in poverty. Those changes can lead to lifelong problems like depression, learning difficulties and limitations in the ability to cope with stress. But the study showed that the extent of those changes was influenced strongly by whether parents were attentive and nurturing. Pictured is principal investigator Joan L. Luby, MD.

Increasing fathers’ engagement in parenting programs

In an effort to increase father participation in parenting programs, as well as improve father-child interactions, Patricia L. Kohl, PhD, associate professor of Social Work at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, has collaborated with the Father’s Support Center of St. Louis to develop Engaging Fathers in Positive Parenting, a program funded by the CDC designed to be used in conjunction with the evidence-based parenting intervention, Triple P, Positive Parenting Program.

Social Security’s ‘Chained COLA’ not ready for prime time

Social Security’s cost of living adjustments (COLA) are designed to protect against the erosion of retiree purchasing power when prices go up, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). “Now Social Security self-styled ‘reformers’ seek to lower COLA every year based on their claim that COLA overstates inflation,” says Merton C. Bernstein, LLB, a nationally recognized expert on Social Security. The proposed substitute for the current CPI formula, ‘Chained COLA,’ is based on the assumption that benefit recipients substitute lower-priced goods as prices go up. “This the assumption is unrealistic for those millions who only have access to convenience stores that typically offer fewer choice and higher prices,” says Bernstein, the Walter D. Coles Professor Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. “And, further, it is not reasonable to assume that most consumers can outwit the wiles of merchandising experts.”

Impact of Assets and the Poor grows 20 years after its release

Michael Sherraden’s book, Assets and the Poor: A New American Welfare Policy, broke new ground on social policy in 1991. Twenty years later, its impact still is being felt around the world. In Assets and the Poor, Sherraden, PhD, the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, writes that asset accumulation is structured and subsidized for many non-poor households, primarily via retirement accounts and home ownership. He argues that these opportunities should be available to all and proposes establishing individual savings accounts for the poor — also known as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Since Sherraden first proposed IDAs, they have been adopted in federal legislation and in more than 40 states.
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