November 29, 2013


Meet The Man Who Wants To Help Paul Ryan Solve Poverty (DANNY VINIK   NOV. 26, 2013, Business Insider)

Scott Winship is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who specializes in income inequality and economic mobility. He, along with other conservative wonks, has been working with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on a new anti-poverty agenda that will likely be unveiled in the Spring. We spoke yesterday evening and a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity, follows. [...]

Winship : Another interesting approach would be to promote a voucherized human capital investment program. The idea would be that if you're disadvantaged you qualify for a voucher that you could use for whatever services you think would most benefit your kid. That will vary by family obviously. Maybe it's tutoring. Maybe it's summer school. Maybe it's an after school program. Maybe it's violin programs. Essentially, you give folks vouchers. You create a regulated market of organizations that can receive vouchers and people who could receive the vouchers. But then you rigorously evaluate both overall approaches and individual providers and those who are ineffective at some point no longer qualify for the vouchers. What would be potentially interesting about that is you could attack this cultural element of poverty as well where people particularly in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty have kind of ended up with bad norms that inhibit mobility. 

It would be voluntary so it would encourage personal responsibility as well. If parents decided not to use these vouchers then they wouldn't help their kid at all so you're sort of building in an incentive for them to think about their kid's future and investing in it.

Finally, one of the benefits of it would be you would find that more programs than not fail to be effective. In some sense that would be bad because you would be throwing dollars at problems without improving things. On the other hand, it would also be a way to build concerns and recognition around the fact that a lot of what we currently do is ineffective and there's no reason to spend money on ineffective things when we could discover things that do work and use the money there.

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Posted by at November 29, 2013 6:18 PM

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