A tax credit for married parents and a voucher for them to invest in their children?

by Ryan Streeter on November 30, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

In this Business Insider interview, Scott Winship offers some interesting ideas relevant to our mobility challenges today: a married parent tax credit and a human capital voucher. He explains:

It’s worth thinking about a married parent tax credit that would similarly provide a bonus and an incentive for parents to marry and maybe the bonus could be for parents to wait until they were married to have children. Out of wedlock childbearing is one of the more distressing problems that we’re facing.

Another interesting approach would be to promote a voucherized human capital investment program. The idea would be that if you’re disadvantaged you qualify for a voucher that you could use for whatever services you think would most benefit your kid. That will vary by family obviously. Maybe it’s tutoring. Maybe it’s summer school. Maybe it’s an after school program. Maybe it’s violin programs. Essentially, you give folks vouchers. You create a regulated market of organizations that can receive vouchers and people who could receive the vouchers. But then you rigorously evaluate both overall approaches and individual providers and those who are ineffective at some point no longer qualify for the vouchers. What would be potentially interesting about that is you could attack this cultural element of poverty as well where people particularly in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty have kind of ended up with bad norms that inhibit mobility.

It would be voluntary so it would encourage personal responsibility as well. If parents decided not to use these vouchers then they wouldn’t help their kid at all so you’re sort of building in an incentive for them to think about their kid’s future and investing in it.