Rural communities, where on average 9.1 percent of working-age people are on disability — nearly twice the urban rate and 40 percent higher than the national average...from Appalachia into the Deep South and out into Missouri, where rates are higher yet, places economists have called “disability belts...in 102 counties, mostly within these belts...a Washington Post analysis of federal statistics estimates that, at minimum, about 1 in 6 working-age residents draw disability checks.

This near-absence of racial diversity means that racism is largely left out of Utah’s conversations about economic inequality. That leads to some conversations around inequality that would be unbearably fraught elsewhere. When the poor people are, by and large, the same race as the richer ones, people find it easier to talk about them ...  as folks who may have made some mistakes and started with some disadvantages, but also as folks who could be self-sufficient after a little help

One in five homeless Americans live in California, where the problem is especially acute. In the Golden State and three other western states – Hawaii, Nevada and Oregon – more than 50% of homeless people are categorized as unsheltered, meaning they are living in the streets, vehicles or parks, in places not fit for humans to stay. In New York, by comparison, the number is less than 5%.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent ... The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense.

Housing these people led to dramatic cost savings that more than paid for the cost of putting them in decent housing, including $1.8 million in health care savings from 447 fewer ER visits (78% reduction) and 372 fewer hospital days (79% reduction). Tenants also spent 84 fewer days in jail, with a 72% drop in arrests ... 94% of the original tenants retained their housing after 18 months, with a 99% rent collection rate.

Researchers are only now beginning to understand how consequential the program has been for the lives of the American poor...The federal government has now recouped much of the original cost of insuring those poor families...because their children have grown up to pay more in taxes and rely less on welfare and other public benefits. As an investment, Medicaid has returned at least 2 percent a year so far...excluding the benefits to patients themselves and focusing only on Uncle Sam's bottom line

a campaign to raise the Massachusetts minimum wage to $15 an hour could put more money in the pockets of low-income workers and create a path to self-sufficiency. But for some families, the boost in pay could mean a drop of hundreds of dollars a month in government benefits. Food stamps, child care vouchers, and rent subsidies could be cut before families can afford to cover those expenses on their own, leaving some households, particularly single parents with young children, worse off...a phenomenon known as the “cliff effect.”

Another reason why Canadians are not worried about immigration is that they feel less insecure... income inequality has increased since the early 1980s, but it remains considerably lower than in the United States. Poverty has fallen sharply since the mid-1990s. Low-income men...are less likely to die prematurely in Canada... America spends a larger share of its GDP on social programmes than Canada does, but Canada is more generous with spending that acts as a safety net.

For all their flaws, housing projects can have remarkable positive effects on the children who grow up in them ... Children who spend more time in public housing will earn hundreds of dollars more each year than they would have if their parents had not received housing assistance from the government during those years. Children who benefit from public housing are also less likely to be imprisoned, according to the data.

Head Start children, when they became parents, were also more likely...to say they read aloud to their own children and taught them the alphabet, or had in the previous week praised them and spent time with them doing the child’s favorite activities. That’s a very different set of outcomes than measuring kindergarten readiness or third-grade skills. But results like that reveal more about the potential of investments in young children to later break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.