UNH Research Finds Combination of Social Programs Keeps People Out of Poverty

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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DURHAM, N.H.—The number of people living in poverty would be significantly higher without the combination of five government programs—Social Security, disability benefits, federal and state cash assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to new research by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

The five programs combined keep 11.5% of rural and 7.6% of urban residents out of poverty, the research found. Social Security is especially important; without it, poverty would increase by 4.4% in urban areas and by 7.6% in rural areas. Poverty in rural areas would rise to more than 20% just without Social Security.

“As policymakers consider revisions to federal social programs, like adding work requirements to SNAP and changing eligibility parameters for tax credits, the implications for the poverty rate are sometimes overlooked,” said the researchers. “The implications of these changes need to be considered.”

The research was conducted by Jess Carson, research assistant professor with the Carsey School’s Vulnerable Families Research Program, and Beth Mattingly, a policy fellow at the Carsey School.

The Carsey School of Public Policy conducts research, leadership development, and engaged scholarship relevant to public policy. They address pressing challenges, striving for innovative, responsive, and equitable solutions at all levels of government and in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation’s highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.