The misunderstood social safety net

December 4, 2017

Few topics are more misunderstood than the U.S. social safety net. From Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” to current HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s caricature of a comfortable life in public housing, the safety net and those who use it have been routinely vilified. Research conducted by Mark R. Rank, professor of social welfare at the Brown School, revealed that childhood poverty costs the U.S. approximately $1 trillion a year, or 5.4 percent of its GDP. Additionally, his researched showed that for ever dollar spent on reducing poverty, the country would save at least $7 with respect to the economic costs of poverty. Professor Rank’s research on poverty and the social safety net can be found at