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‘Stimulus checks substantially reduced hardship,’ NYT and Newsweek report, citing Poverty Solutions study

The New York Times highlighted a recent study by Luke Shaefer and Patrick Cooney, released by Poverty Solutions, which shows, “that sharp declines in food shortages, financial instability and anxiety coincided with the two most recent rounds of payments.”

The article published Wednesday, June 2, highlights, “A new analysis of Census Bureau surveys argues that the two latest rounds of aid significantly improved Americans’ ability to buy food and pay household bills and reduced anxiety and depression, with the largest benefits going to the poorest households and those with children. The analysis offers the fullest look at hardship reduction under the stimulus aid.”

“We see an immediate decline among multiple lines of hardship concentrated among the most disadvantaged families,” Shaefer said.  “Cash aid offers families great flexibility to address their most pressing problems, and getting it out quickly is something the government knows how to do.”

The Times reports that “extrapolating from the survey data, he concluded that 5.2 million children had escaped food insufficiency since the start of the year, a figure he called dramatic.”

Newsweek also reported on the study:

“‘Over the past year, in a time of great economic uncertainty, when the federal government pushed cash into U.S. households, they in turn reported much better outcomes,’ Cooney and Shaefer wrote in their study.”

Cooney and Shaefer attributed the success of the federal government’s relief measures to the speed, breadth, and flexibility of its broad-based approach, primarily relying on cash transfers. Poverty Solutions has tracked material hardship levels throughout the pandemic.

The article in The New York Times can be read here.

The article in Newsweek can be read here.

The full policy brief, “Material Hardship and Mental Health Following the COVID-19 Relief Bill and American Rescue Plan Act,” can be read here.

Article courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan