Pandemic Policies Drive Down Poverty

Pandemic-era policies have reduced rates of poverty and lack of insurance.

Pandemic-era policies have reduced rates of poverty and lack of insurance.

According to the latest report from the United States Census Bureau, various policies implemented at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic have had a positive knock-on effect for those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Specifically, instances of poverty, especially child poverty, as well as uninsured individuals, are down notably.

According to the report, child poverty dropped from 9.7% in 2020 down to 5.2% in 2021, while the overall poverty rate fell to 8% from 9.2%. Analysts have attributed much of this positive movement to the child tax credit that was instated as part of 2021’s American Rescue Plan, which provided millions of lower-income American families with tax breaks to afford familial essentials.

“They spend it on their housing, food, education, they’re able to do some of those extracurricular activities that high income families take for granted,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities researcher Sharon Parrott told NPR. “They are investing in their kids and their families are able to make ends meet in really important ways.”

However, experts have cautioned that, if the pandemic policies are ended whenever COVID-19 is no longer considered a medical emergency, these improvements could be quickly reversed.

“As soon as the public health emergency is declared over – which could be as early as January – that safety net that was in that COVID relief bill goes away,” said Sabrina Corlette of the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “And so we could see this historic increase in the rates of the insured be reversed.”

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