The New York Times, August 22, 2020: The Coronavirus Generation
Three decades ago, a team of researchers at Duke University set off to follow a group of schoolchildren in a stretch of rural North Carolina that happened to include a small reservation. Soon after, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened a casino and began sharing the profits, about $4,000 per adult each year, with every household in the tribe — essentially creating a local version of guaranteed income.
What followed should interest anyone concerned about America’s high levels of child poverty or worried how poor children will fare amid the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.
The Cherokee children did better than their unsubsidized counterparts — much better, the researchers found. They completed more schooling. They committed fewer crimes. They had fewer problems with anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The poorest children benefited most. Researchers are still following the kids, who are now in middle age.
The Great Smoky Mountains Study is part of a trove of evidence that has reshaped expert views of child poverty, and it is ripe with lessons today, when the number of needy children is soaring.