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Anti-Poverty Nudges

A new article in The American Prospect looks at the progress of New York City’s ambitious anti-poverty initiative, Opportunity NYC. The program is based on Mexico’s successful conditional cash-transfer program, Oportunidades. The conditional part of the program, which gives families cash for tasks like taking a child to the dentist or attending parent-teacher conferences, has drawn criticism from some anti-poverty advocates. Mark Winston Griffith of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy says: “It sort of suggests that poverty is a lifestyle choice, that somehow if we’re just given a nudge, that we can choose not to be in this condition.” Preliminary results, released by the city in April, indicated that families enrolled in the program were successful in opening bank accounts, taking their kids to the doctor, and encouraging school attendance among younger children. Families have been less successful at other things, like finding work and improving children’s test scores. (HT: Chris Blattman) [%comments]