Sunday, March 9, 2014

Minorities and Poverty

Leftists love to say they care about minorities like blacks, but in reality, they have done nothing to help minorities move out of poverty. In fact, the policies which are most likely to help blacks and other minorities. These policies would include giving vouchers to students so they can attend a private or public school of their choice and abolishing the minimum wage.

School choice:

A Harvard study on the effects of school vouchers on college enrollment in New York City concluded:

"Our estimates indicate that using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African Americans by 24 percent." [1]

Unfortunately, leftists will fight tooth and nail to protect public schools from competition and they refuse to give parents the choice to send their children to private schools, even when it is poor inner city minorities who would most benefit from such a program.

The Minimum Wage:

A recent study by Economists William Even (PhD.) and David Machpherson (PhD.) titled, Unequal Harm,  analyzed the effects minimum wage laws had on black teenagers in comparison to white teenagers. Using a dataset that spans 20 years and a recorded 600,000 observations, the economists find significant disparities in the disemployment effects of minimum wages laws. The study found that each 10 percent increase in the federal minimum wage reduced the white teenager’s employment rate by 2.5%. In contrast, the same increase in the minimum wage resulted in the black teenager unemployment rate declining by 6.5% (Even 1). The study concluded with the following statement:

“This study suggests that the minimum wage hikes are especially harmful to the employment prospects of young, low-skilled, black men. In the states where the federal minimum wage hikes of 2007-2009 were binding, the increases in the federal minimum wage did more damage to the employment prospects of black men than the Great Recession.” [2]

Marriage among minorities:

Leftists also tend to downplay the role of marriage in reducing poverty. The poverty rate among non-married families is very low for whites (3.2%), hispanics (13.2%),  and blacks (7.0%). On the other hand, the poverty rate among non-married families of these same groups is in the double digits, 22%, 38%, and 35% respectively.

In fact, the marriage rates for all these groups (especially blacks) has been declining since the War on Poverty began in the late 1960's. Indeed, blacks have seen the worst decline in marriage rates from around 65% of black families being married in 1970 to around 40% in 2010. [3] Unfortunately, 72% of black children are born out of wedlock compared to 53% for Hispanics and 29% for whites. [4]

Keep in mind that the child poverty rate among single female headed households with children is 37.1% in comparison to 6.8% for married, two-parent families. According to the Heritage Foundation:

"Father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly two-thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes; each year, an additional 1.5 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, almost three-quarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty." [5]

A leading contributor in this decline in marriage is welfare. According to a study published in the National Institute of Health:

"We find that welfare participation reduces the likelihood of transitioning to marriage , but only while the mother is receiving benefits...We infer that the negative association between welfare participation and subsequent marriage reflects temporary economic disincentives rather than an erosion of values" [6]

Additionally, a study by Georgia State University concluded:

"At least in some earnings ranges, the tax-benefit system discourages low-income people from investing in education and training, discourages labor supply, encourages fertility, and provides little incentive to marry or to remain so. To the extent that households are aware of and respond to such incentives, the tax-benefit system creates poverty traps rather than promoting behaviors that enable families to escape poverty"

There is tremendous evidence that left wing policies do absolutely nothing but harm the very people they are meant to help, despite the intentions of those who push such policies into law. If we truly want to help disadvantaged minorities we need to abolish or reform the obstacles that inhibit their ability to succeed (the minimum wage and the welfare system) as well as give them the opportunity to choose to go to a high quality private school.


[2] Even, William, Dr., and David Macpherson, Dr. "Unequal Harm." Employment Policies Institute, May 2011. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

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