Poverty is a problem in the United States. The challenge for researchers who study its causes and possible solutions is to connect with those who can take action.
The University of California, Davis, Poverty Research and Policy Summit on Friday, April 22, at UC Center Sacramento brought together researchers with policymakers and professionals on the front lines of poverty to discuss research and policy now -- and where both can lead into the future. About 120 people attended.
“Poverty is real,” said U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, who delivered the summit’s opening remarks. “It exists here in our area, and this institution -- the policies and research that you’re working on here -- are fundamentally important for us to figure out how to solve it.”
The center’s faculty affiliates from across the social sciences at UC Davis presented their work within the Center for Poverty Research’s four themes: labor markets and poverty, the state of the safety net, children and the intergenerational transmission of poverty, and the intersections of poverty and immigration.
Panelists including California Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, UC Davis School of Law Dean Kevin Johnson, and policy professionals from across California described what they need from researchers to address that impact poverty in the state.
For low wage workers, said Professor Ann Huff Stevens, the center’s director, high, stable wages and full-time hours will lift many out of poverty, but not necessarily single parents. Stevens is an economist as well as interim dean of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.
Poverty affects children in a number of ways, both in the short- and long-term, according to the center’s deputy director, Professor Marianne Page. Poverty can particularly affect children’s brain development, as well as their health.
Existing safety net programs that increase income, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps, as well as the opportunity for education, can go a long way toward reducing poverty and helping children in poverty have better chances for the future, Page said. Government-funded low and no-cost lunch programs and health programs, such as Medicaid, are crucial to fighting poverty, she said.
A summary of papers presented at the conference is available.
The Center for Poverty Research at UC Davis is one of three federally designated centers whose mission is to facilitate non-partisan academic research on poverty in the U.S., disseminate this research, and train the next generation of poverty scholars.