One of the key aspects of human efficiency is making decisions based on facts, data, and nonideological logic. This is a critical aspect of having an efficient government and political system.
Since the causes of poverty are sometimes categorized as individual and societal in nature, the solutions can be put into the same categories. In this post, we will look at possible behavioral solutions for poverty in the U.S.
President Clinton signed what is known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act into law on August 22, 1996 as part of his campaign to “end welfare as we have come to know it”. It was primarily authored by the Republicans with some compromises.
The program transferred some of the responsibility from the federal government to states and added some restrictions and work requirements. It is estimated that between 1996 and 2014 child poverty fell about 5% and, as of 2014 was at an all-time low.
But, as of the 2011 to 2015 time period, about 35% of children in the U.S. lived in single-parent households. For African-Americans this percentage was 67%. Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crimes and 20 times more likely to end up in prison, among many other problems. Since 1960, the number of children in fatherless homes has about tripled.
Another unfortunate statistic is that, as of 2012, 57% of women with high-school degrees or less education are not married when they have their first child. On the other hand, 94% of births to college-educated women occur within marriage. This percentage has not changed over the last generation.
So why do so many people with less education in the U.S. have children outside of marriage? According to The Atlantic there are a number of reasons. These include a lack of husband options, a lack of planning, and the perception that it is a sign of importance.
Based on data and statistics, this does not bode well for a substantial percentage of the children being born today. And this is not just an issue in the U.S. as this article from the Telegraph points out.
Engineers understand that to correctly solve a problem you need to solve the root cause of the problem and not some intermediate issue. Based on data and statistics, not having two parents present in a household is a major cause of both poverty and crime in this country and elsewhere. Welfare programs and adding more police are just bandaids for the resulting situation.
Because of the severity of these problems something needs to be done, not just because of these issues but most importantly for the sake of the children involved. Life is hard enough as it is. But changing people’s behaviors is easier said than done. However, it can be done. In the next post we will look into this.
The goal of these posts is to provide the fact-based story behind issues that we are facing in this country. We can no longer allow ideology to make decisions for us when facts and data prove that we should be doing thing differently.
Next: Behavioral-based Solutions continued