How can it be that the United States spends so much money fighting poverty and still suffers one of the highest child poverty rates among advanced nations?
One in five American children is poor by the count of LIS, a data archive tracking well-being and deprivation around the world. By international standards that set the poverty line at one-half the income of families on the middle rung of the income ladder, the United States tolerated more child poverty in 2012 than 30 of the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of advanced industrialized nations.
The percentage of children who are poor is more than three times as high in the United States as it is in Norway or the Netherlands. America has a larger proportion of poor children than Russia.
So what’s going on? We may spend a lot of money, but we don’t spend it well. It turns out that the most generous federal programs for families with children barely help the nation’s unluckiest children. Rather, they generally push money to their counterparts higher up the ladder of well-being.