Poverty Policy

Understanding the Causes, Consequences, and Current Programs to Address Poverty in Montana and the U.S.

 A conference sponsored by the Montana State University Initiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis

 Held Friday, April 7, 2017 at Montana State University Procrastinator Theater

Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.” - President Lyndon Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Although the U.S. poverty rate declined from near 20% to near 10% in the first few years after President Johnson declared War on Poverty 52 years ago, progress against poverty since then has been minimal at best. Despite spending nearly $1 trillion annually on dozens of poverty-reduction programs, the U.S. poverty rate has hovered between 10 and 15% for the last 50 years. Montana is no exception to these national trends, with the latest Census data indicating that our poverty rate was 14.6% in 2015. Poverty is much higher on our reservations, where more than 1 in 3 people live in poverty.

This day-long conference will bring together nationally-recognized researchers, policymakers, and advocates working on the front lines in the fight against poverty to discuss the causes and consequences of poverty and the role of policy and regulation in the fight against poverty nationally, and in Montana in particular. Sessions will focus on both short- and long-term policies, from nutrition and health insurance programs, to the impact of family structure, to the roles education, work, and social entrepreneurship in the fight against poverty.

Attendees will leave the conference with a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty, the impact of the myriad policies designed to help the poor, and the prospects for effective policies aimed at reducing poverty moving forward. 


Session I: An Overview of Poverty in Montana and the U.S. 

Session Moderator: Vince Smith

8:30 am

Welcome and Introduction Vince Smith

8:45 am

Poverty in Montana: An Overview

Presenter: George Haynes, Montana State University

Discussant: Patrick Barkey, University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research

 9:15 am

Poverty, Inequality and Mobility: The National Picture

Presenter: Ann Huff Stevens, University of California Davis Center for   Poverty Research

Discussants: Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Brookings Institution and Northwestern University & Robert Doar, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)


Session II: The Intersection of Work, Family, and Assistance

Session Moderator: Wendy Stock

10:15 am

Work and Assistance: How Do They Work Together?

Presenter: Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution and University of North Carolina

Discussants: Robert Lerman, Urban Institute and American University & Lawrence Mead, New York University

 11:00 am

Family Structure, Poverty, and Economic Growth

Presenter: W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia

Discussants: Angela Rachidi, AEI & Lawrence Mead, New York University


Session III: Policy Responses to Poverty – Health and Nutrition Programs

Session Moderator: Isaac Swensen

1:15 pm

Role of SNAP in Reducing Hunger and Poverty

Presenter: Stacy Dean, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Discussants: Robert Doar, AEI & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Brookings Institution and Northwestern University

2:00 pm

Medicaid: Past, Present, and Future

Presenter: Joseph Antos, AEI 

Discussants: Jonathan Skinner, Dartmouth College & Peter Buerhaus, Montana State University


Session IV: Responses to Poverty Among Particular Groups

Session Moderator: George Haynes

3:00 pm

Poverty in Indian Country

Presenter: Dick Todd, Center for Indian Country Development, Federal Reserve Bank of   Minneapolis

Discussants: Walter Fleming, Montana State University & Bill Yellowtail, Emeritus Katz Chair, Montana State University

3:45 pm

The Role of Social Enterprise in Creating Employment Opportunities for People Facing Barriers to Work

Presenter: Carla Javits, REDF

Discussants: Robert Lerman, Urban Institute and American University & Kevin Corinth, AEI

4:30 pm

Wrap up and Discussion

Moderator: Wendy Stock, Montana State University

Panelists: Heather Grenier, CEO, Human Resource Development Council Bozeman; Renee Reijo-Pera, Vice President for Research, Montana State University; Montana Wilson, Montana  State University Student; Robert Doar, AEI.