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CHART: Welfare can save kids from poverty

A park in Stockholm, Sweden
A park in Stockholm, Sweden
Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Does single motherhood lead to child poverty? Matt Bruenig of the progressive think tank Demos explores that question in a post today. The US, Finland, Norway, and Sweden all have roughly the same percentage of children born into single-parent families — and most of these children would be poor, without government intervention.

But as this chart shows, after "T&T" — "taxes and transfers," or social welfare programs — the vast majority of these Scandinavian children of single mothers are lifted out of poverty. In the US, though, our less generous welfare state leaves most of these children to grow up poor.


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Chart by Matt Bruenig, Demos

The point? Child poverty is a problem government can help solve, if voters want it to. In Scandinavia, voters do want the problem solved, and they're willing to pay the taxes necessary to get there. In the United States, not so much.

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