The Economic Perspective: “Revamping Social Support Programs”

Mary:  I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program looks at revamping social support programs.  Mike, one element the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed is flaws in our social support programs.  Many seem to be inconsistent and also complicated.   What changes might be considered to make them work better in the future?


Mike:  Summary Answer

  • First – there are too many
  • Each has their own rules – so with same income, a household might qualify for one and not for others
  • Also, very importantly, they can encourage long use because most withdraw support at high rates when recipient earns more
  • So: three reforms to consider
  • One: collapse into five: health, food, housing, transportation, other
  • Two: monthly debit cards for each
  • Three: same income rules and standard so for each, but make sure withdraw support at no more than 50 cents for every new work dollar earned
  • I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.