Implementing a portfolio of programs and policies to reduce intergenerational poverty would yield a high payoff for children and the entire nation, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report examines the key drivers of intergenerational poverty in the U.S. and concludes that evidence-based policies - such as increasing K-12 spending for underfunded districts, expanding occupational training programs, increasing access to the Medicaid program, and expanding the earned income tax credit - appear likely to lessen the chances that children living in poverty will experience poverty as adults.
Intergenerational poverty occurs when children who grow up in families with incomes below the poverty line are themselves poor as adults. Among U.S. children born around 1980 who grew up in households with incomes near or below the poverty line, 34 percent were still living in low-income households when they were in their 30s. Rates of intergenerational poverty are much higher for Black (37%) and Native American (46%) children than other children. Contemporary and historical disparities, discrimination, and structural racism create further challenges for Black and Native American families in establishing economic security for their children.