The group most in need of a basic income is children. Almost all of the Universal Basic Income (UBI) schemes I have seen fail kids by not starting the payments until age 18.
This fails to address to address the blight of child poverty. Worse, it ignores the all-too common reality that children often drag their parents down into poverty.
Fortunately, child poverty can be addressed by simply paying the basic income to everybody regardless of age. This would be a true Universal Basic Income that would help the entire family – not just the children.
How a Basic Income can Help Children
The government would issue a basic income payment for every person making less than a certain income. For persons under 18, that income would go to the parent they with or the legal guardian.
This money would help two of the most neglected groups in our society, children and mothers. Many women condemn themselves to poverty simply being a responsible mom. They give up work or career to be with their kids at a time when expenses increase of the kids.
The situation is even worse for single mothers; estimates are that 43% to 60% of the children in single-mother households live in poverty. That means that one in four American children has a greater risk of poverty simply because of their mom’s marital status.
Less than 10% of the federal budget is spent on kids, Children International estimates. That’s a fraction of what many other countries spend on their kids. That means poor kids start life at a tremendous disadvantage; their families have fewer resources, and the government does little for them.
Child Poverty USA
We should consider basic income because child poverty is more common and widespread in America than most people believe.
Frightening statistics about childhood poverty include:
- One in seven American children is born into poverty according to Children International.
- Four out of 10 Americans might be impacted by childhood poverty. The Urban Institute estimated that 40% of American kids spend at least one year in poverty.
- The childhood poverty rate is 14.8% in the United States.
- The rate of childhood poverty is higher than that in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
This should concern us because there is data that indicates men who grow up in poverty are less likely to work. Statistics indicate that 58% of men born to poor families in Baltimore were employed at age 30, but 71% of girls from the same families had jobs.
The same pattern is repeated all over the country in diverse communities researchers from Stanford and Harvard discovered, The Washington Post reported. One of the researchers, Stanford economist Raj Chetty believes boys are more sensitive to poverty than girls.
The evidence is clear, leaving children in poverty leads to more poor adults. The time to intervene to stop poverty is when the kids are kids.
How the Basic Income can Fight Childhood Poverty
A basic income would be a great way to fight child poverty because it would be paid directly to the parents.
Most of the parents would spend the money on things like food, rent, or payments on a new car to reach a better job. A few parents would undoubtedly spend the basic income funds on private-school tuition.
Some parents would be able to move to better neighborhoods or pay tuition at better schools for their kids. Others might be able to quit or reduce work in order to devote more time to parenting. Many parents might be able to go back to school and get a college or trade school degree to improve their income.
Another use parents can make is to put the basic income into a bank account as a college savings. Most importantly, the money would be going to parents, not to social workers and other bureaucrats. It would be more likely to benefit the kids directly where they live.
A country should be judged on what it does for children and how it supports parents. By those standards, America is doing a terrible job. A nation that refuses to support the most important workers of all; parents in the most important job of all, parenting deserves to fail.
It is time to investigate how government can directly help parents. Basic income appears to be one of the ways that can be done.
Traditionalists will like this because we will be rewarding families for having children. Cultural conservatives will rejoice because government is supporting family life. Feminists will like it because women will be empowered because single-mothers will get income. We all know money is power.
How a Basic Income for Children Might work
Here is a simple proposal for Basic Income for American Families.
- Simply pay every American with an individual income of less than $57,000 a year a basic income of $500 a month regardless of age.
- Since the vast majority of children make less than that. Almost children would be eligible for Basic Income.
- The Basic Income would be deposited directly into the bank account or digital wallet of the child’s parent or guardian.
- When the child turns 18 the Basic Income will simply go into his or her digital wallet or bank account.
Such a system would be far from perfect but it would be better than our current bureaucratic mess. One thing is certain it will be far better than leaving one in seven American kids in poverty.