Keeping Track: exiting poverty

Alternatives to 'bootstraps capitalism' abroad

People considered poor in the Netherlands, Canada, and Sweden are more likely than those in the United States or United Kingdom to escape poverty, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The annual "exit rate" from poverty was higher in the Netherlands and Sweden - countries that have more generous social programs - while an average of only 29 percent of poor Americans and Britons escaped poverty annually. Americans also tended to fall back into poverty at a higher rate after they had made it out, the study said.

The evidence casts doubt on the theory that "bootstrap" (or self-help) capitalism is always the most effective means of escaping poverty, says Jared Bernstein of the EPI.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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