Daily Column – 25th January 2022

Money. The results of a study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences were very important. They show that direct payments to low-income families appear to have a big impact on the brain development of newborns.

In this sentence, we’ll say: Scientists went to hundreds of low-income mothers who had recently given birth and split them into two groups.

One group of moms got $20 a month, and the other group got $333. Find out how much more money you make if you do some quick math on a napkin. The difference was $3,756 a year.

Over the course of the study, which lasts until the kids are at least four years old, the researchers strapped the infants into a cap that could read their brain waves.

One year later, they found that babies born to mothers who earned $333 a month had more high-frequency brain activity than babies born to mothers who earned $20 a month. Having a lot of brain activity is often, but not always, linked to better cognitive skills in the long run.

“This is the first study to show that money, in and of itself, has a direct effect on brain development,” study co-author and Columbia University neuroscientist Dr. Kimberly G. Noble said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s a big deal.”

To watch C-SPAN live near you:

This isn’t the kind of study that will be forgotten in the back of an old academic journal. It could have an immediate impact on policy debates on the House floor.

In this case, it all comes down to the child tax credit. Under a new child tax credit programme, the Biden administration had been giving up to $300 per child to families in the United States. If you look at a report from Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, it found that the programme had cut monthly child poverty by about 30% in December.

But that credit ran out at the end of 2021, so you can’t use it again. As we all know, the Build Back Better Act, which was proposed by Biden and progressive Democrats, was never passed.

This is how you zoom out: A lot of people have talked about how the child tax credit helps parents get more money for their kids. This study talks about how cash transfers for kids can help, which adds a new factor to the debate.

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