Support Marketplace

Cash incentives for NYC's poor

View of New York City from the Empire State Building

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg is in Mexico this week. He's there to check out a program that offers cash to poor families if they accomplish some goals — like getting their kids to school on a regular basis. Bloomberg thinks this might work in the Big Apple. Alisa Roth has more.


ALISA ROTH: Under Bloomberg's plan, poor families will be able to earn as much as $5,000 a year for meeting certain goals.

Conditional cash incentives have been used widely in Latin America and Asia.

Francisco Ferreira is an economist at the World Bank. He says such programs have been shown to help ease poverty.

FRANCISCO FERREIRA: They also seem to effectively keep children in school and to increase the usage of health facilities.

Deyanira Del Rio works at a financial justice organization in the city called NEDAP. She says she's pleased the mayor is taking the problem of poverty seriously, but some aspects of the program worry her.

DEYANIRA DEL RIO: Suggesting that it's not the system that's broken, but that the people are the broken ones and that, you know, they need to be incentivized to behave better.

The program will initially cost about $50 million. If it works, Bloomberg says he'll try to make it a permanent, government-funded program.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...