How programs to help the poor can harm upward mobility

Written by Defending Ideas

August 15, 2023

Imagine you’re offered a raise that, if accepted, would actually make your family worse off.

This is the experience of some families in poverty when they hit something called the benefits cliff. This “cliff effect” is triggered when a family’s increase in earned income prompts a disproportionately larger decrease in the benefits they receive through federally funded public assistance programs.

This week’s guest is Kelsey Underwood, vice president of strategy and product for the Georgia Center for Opportunity. She joins the show to discuss how the benefits cliff can disincentivize work, negatively impacting families struggling to escape poverty. She also touches on GCO’s efforts in various states to clear obstacles to upward mobility for impoverished Americans. The discussion centers around the dignity of work that fosters upward mobility and identifies resources available to policymakers and business leaders to help address the issue.

Show notes:

Defending Ideas is a weekly podcast produced by Sutherland Institute. On this show we are committed to renewing the principles of common sense conservatism, equipping listeners to become more effective champions of sound principle and good policy. Visit defendingideas.org.

Connect with Sutherland Institute

Join Our Donor Network