Opportunity, responsibility, and security

A consensus plan for reducing poverty and restoring the American Dream


As America recovers from the Great Recession, many of our fellow citizens remain mired in poverty. Economic trends, cultural changes, and changes in family and marriage patterns are combining in new ways that make it harder for those born on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder to lift themselves up.

One ray of hope is that Republicans and Democrats are increasingly talking about the intertwined problems of poverty and opportunity. Experts on both sides of the political aisle understand that poverty is changing, and policy responses must change, too.

This comprehensive report is the result of 14 months of work by 15 experts in the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity. Its consensus plan to reduce poverty and restore the American Dream bridges the partisan divide and suggests a way forward despite the political polarization and gridlock that has paralyzed much of Washington.

The report begins with an unbiased, thorough review of basic facts about poverty, mobility, education, employment, and marriage in America today. Additional chapters focus on how changes in family, work, and education have together forced more Americans into poverty, with little chance of escaping. Finally, the report concludes with a path forward based on shared values.