We’ve written about the impact of stimulus checks during the pandemic, but the US also responded with additional measures like raising food stamps benefits, barring eviction, and offering financial support to small businesses. It looks like this policy choice paid off; poverty in 2021 is significantly lower than it was in 2018, with research showing this change being largely due to anti-poverty legislation.
Researchers at Columbia University found that 2021 is on track to have the lowest poverty rate on record out of every year that has data available, despite the pandemic. Poverty among Black Americans is projected to fall from 20.4 percent to 12.1 percent, and child poverty is expected to be cut by more than half (13.7 percent to 5.9 percent).
Columbia researchers estimate that the December 2020 relief bill alone cut poverty by 1.3 percent, with further intervention responsible for cutting it down to 8.5 percent, well below 2018’s 12.8 percent.
Without government intervention, poverty would have been higher than in 2018. This evidence, combined with results from universal basic income studies, indicates that poverty is a result of policy over anything else, with years of research suggesting that giving out direct payments doesn’t have the negative effects that have been prescribed to it by critics.