Investments in Low-Income Youth Pay Dividends for Us All

Want proof that policies to help low-income youth succeed are key to a thriving economy? Several recent studies show that increased funding in education and expanding access to health care for vulnerable young people can help them complete more schooling, raise their incomes, and lead to more economic growth for us all.
A new analysis from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth calculated our economy could be 10 percent larger by 2050 if students from low-income backgrounds had the same educational achievement as more advantaged students. In another study, researchers at Northwestern University and UC Berkeley examined the effects of court-ordered increases in state funding for low-income schools over 40 years and found that a 10 percent increase in spending on low-income students resulted in additional education, higher incomes, and reduced poverty rates throughout their lives.
Equitable health-care policy also pays dividends. Expanded access to affordable health care for low-income children increases their incomes as adults, according to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which looked at the long-term effects of Medicaid insurance expansion on children in the 1980s and 1990s. The benefits extend beyond wages: the kids in the study also had a higher college graduate rates and were less likely to die young.