Jared Bernstein refutes the classic argument against anti-poverty programs, which contends that aid “focuses on poor people’s consumption while neglecting to invest in their future.”
“A lot of what you’d mistake for consumption really works like investment: Yes, it fills the stomach today, but it’s also linked to better outcomes tomorrow.”
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program highlights this point. A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study finds that “when poor, pregnant women and their young children had access to food stamps, those children had better health and economic outcomes as adults” than those who did not.
“By dint of these investments, low-income parents have a better platform … from which to pursue upward mobility;” so these types of anti-poverty programs operate more like a “trampoline” that propel recipients forward.