Giving poor kids half a chance
Republicans won’t like this, especially because if works
IFor many moral, social and economic reasons I have been all-in regarding an annual guaranteed income for all. Now science has weighed in with a study that shows kids born in families that get significant financial assistance are mentally better prepared for success in life. There’s no better or simpler way to end the cycle of poverty.
Published originally in MorningBrew.com and edited for presentation here:
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that direct payments to low-income families appear to significantly affect the brain development of newborns.
How the experiment worked: Researchers recruited hundreds of low-income mothers of newborns and separated them into two groups:
One group of mothers received $20 a month, and the other received $333 - a difference in income of $3,756 annually.
Over the study period (which will last until the kids reach at least four years old), the researchers measured the infants’ brain waves.
What they found one year in: Babies whose mothers received $333/month showed a greater prevalence of higher-frequency brain activity than the $20/month cohort. That brain activity is often associated with better cognitive skills later in life.
The researchers say this is a game changer: “This is the first study to show that money, in and of itself, has a causal impact on brain development,” study co-author and Columbia University neuroscientist Dr. Kimberly G. Noble told the NYT.
This study is not the kind that will be buried in the back of a dusty academic journal—it could have an immediate effect on policy debates on Capitol Hill.
It’s all about the child tax credit. Under an expanded child tax credit program, the Biden administration had been sending up to $300 per child to US households. In December, the program had reduced monthly child poverty by nearly 30%, according to an analysis by the Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
But that credit expired at the end of 2021. Biden and progressive Democrats wanted to extend the program through the Build Back Better Act, which Republicans and Joe Manchin killed.
Zoom out: While debates around the child tax credit have mostly focused on incentives for parents, this research highlights the effect of cash transfers for children, throwing a new variable into the conversation.—NF
This should be a major Democrat issue for the mid-terms and in 2024. Republicans will try to turn it into a cultural issue centering on the value of work, even though they know full well that there are no jobs below the poverty line other than wiping conservative butts. Lurking beneath the surface is their native racism which opposes any programs that would lift Blacks and other minorities.
The child tax credit is a perfect way help the children of poor people become achievers like their wealthier peers. Dems must focus on practicalities and not engage in debates about fake issues like “critical race theory.”
So now we can add FAKE ISSUES to FAKE NEWS and FAKE NEWS ANALYSIS as distractions from real issues of poverty, child development, environmental degradation, inflation, pandemic control, etc.
Goodnight America, wherever you are.