Lies, Damned Lies, and Child Poverty Statistics

Source: Niskanen Center
by Samuel Hammond

“The phrase ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics’ is used almost exclusively in public policy debates. Putting numbers on an issue gives the speaker an air of authority and precision but often comes at the expense of fuller context. Indeed, outright dishonesty is far less common than self-deception and the universal human tendency to seek out evidence that confirms one’s biases. … The expansion of the Child Tax Credit increased the post-tax income of poor families by thousands of dollars, and yet its impact on poverty seems nearly invisible in the data! How can that be? … The problem is that [Angela] Rachidi is incorrect to claim the OPM ‘should reflect the monthly CTC payments.’ While the OPM does count some sources of transfer income, like Social Security and unemployment compensation, it does not include refundable tax credits like the CTC or Earned Income Tax Credit.” (01/05/22)