Kevin Milligan of the University of British Columbia and Mark Stabile of the University of Toronto asked themselves "Can income transfers to poor families help children?" Here's a summary of the answer they got:
Since the 1990s, many countries have reformed their systems of transfers to low income families with an eye toward improving work incentives. This column shows, using Canadian data, that well-designed income transfers can not only help families make their way back to employment, but also improve the educational, mental health, and behavioural outcomes of the next generation.
This sort of scholarship makes me despair of the Canadian Left. Instead of focusing attention on targeted transfers, it wastes its time on arguing for higher minimum wages (a policy that is at best pointless), or on making the case for universal programs that favour the well-off. (, , )
When the Canadian Left does consider the idea of targeted income transfers, its response is invariably dismissive. A typical reaction to the Working Income Tax Benefit (our equivalent of the US Earned Income Tax Credit) is to describe it as a handout "so that employers can continue to pay poverty wages." Not all reactions on the left are so negative, of course. But if this piece is anything to go by, the Canadian Left's support for the idea of giving money to poor people can be at best characterised as 'tepid'.
It's getting harder and harder for me to come up with charitable explanations for the disconnect between the policies that the Canadian Left advocates and policies that serious scholarship says will actually help reduce poverty and inequality.