Removing work disincentives in the social safety net will strengthen upward mobility and the economy

Removing work disincentives in the social safety net will strengthen upward mobility and the economy


Policymakers at the national level looking for ways to strengthen economic opportunity too often fixate solely on expanding government programs. Instead, they should embrace a simple goal: eliminating barriers faced by people striving to improve their situation. Removing work disincentives in the social safety net is the best place to start.

A clear example of this kind of disincentive is the benefits cliff: a circumstance in which a raise or a new job can trigger a disproportionately large reduction in safety net benefits, making the household worse off.

In an episode of Sutherland Institute’s Defending Ideas show, a former safety net participant told me about her experience of earning just $20 more on a paycheck, which led to a reduction of $600 worth of medical

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