University of Wisconsin–Madison
Focus and Focus+ Icon

Adjusting estimates of poverty reduction for behavioral effects

Millions of American children live in families with incomes below the poverty line. A wealth of evidence suggests that a lack of adequate family economic resources compromises children’s ability to grow and achieve success in adulthood, hurting them and the broader society as well. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine were tasked by Congress with conducting a comprehensive study of child poverty in the United States, and identifying evidence-based programs and policies for reducing the number of children living in poverty—including those living in deep poverty—by half within 10 years. The committee appointed by the National Academies to conduct this study produced a consensus report, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, from which the three articles in this issue are drawn. This article details how the committee adjusted its estimates of child poverty reductions for behavioral responses.


  • Poverty-reduction effects may be strengthened by work-based policies and programs that provide work incentives.
  • Poverty-reduction effects may be weakened by income support-based policies and programs that provide disincentives to work.
  • Modeling of behavioral effects can increase the accuracy of estimates of the expected effects of program and policy modifications, even though in this setting the behavioral adjustments do not dramatically change the overall poverty-reducing effects of the programs.


Child Poverty, Children, Employment, Employment General