Some 45 million Americans live in poverty – a staggering 14% of the population. Among them are millions of children who, as a result of their deprivation, fall behind their peers in physical, mental and emotional health. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty that passes down from generation to generation.
In an effort to help children and their families break out of this cycle of poverty, ideas42 has embarked on a new initiative called Poverty Interrupted (PI). The application of behavioral science to this endemic problem could lead not only to improved lives, but also to more efficient deployment of limited public resources.
In 2014, the PI team studied poverty—its causes, costs and consequences—and current anti-poverty initiatives in a behavioral context. We reviewed a vast body of academic literature and spoke with more than 70 experts on poverty in the United States, including academics, practitioners and most importantly, parents raising children on low-incomes. We also conducted contextual reconnaissance at 15 service organizations across the country.
Our research phase culminated with the publication of a white paper that includes specific recommendations for policymakers, program designers, direct service providers and others interested in better aligning anti-poverty systems and services with human behavior.
We will soon begin working with funders and partner organizations to test our recommendations on the ground, with the ultimate goal of scaling up successful interventions to help as many families as possible break the grip of poverty.