Expanding EITC Could Help End Poverty Among Native American Women

By Devin Simpson

A new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) recommends expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) as part of a set of federal policies that would help end poverty among Native American women. The report offers a detailed look at the barriers to economic mobility for American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities and highlights policy recommendations focused on investing in AIAN women.

Arothi Pathak, the author of “How the Government Can End Poverty for Native American Women: Achieving Equitable Pay and Other Federal Investments,” notes that AIAN communities have dealt with a legacy of racist government policies that moved their communities to remote reservations, which tend to lack resources, economic opportunities, and the ability to provide safe communities for residents. According to the report, Native Americans have the highest poverty rate and the lowest workforce participation rate of any major racial demographic, keeping families in a cycle of generational poverty. Pathak focuses on how these barriers specifically affect AIAN women. For example, Pathak highlights pay inequity as one significant barrier to financial stability for AIAN women. The report found that while more than half of AIAN mothers serve as the sole or primary breadwinners in their households, Native American women only make 60 cents on the dollar compared to white men, limiting their household incomes significantly. This makes the economic stability of Native American women critical to the economic mobility of their families and communities.

At the tribal and state level, investments have been made to create more economic opportunities for AIAN communities over the last decade. Tribal governments have worked to create more economic opportunities in their communities, opportunities that AIAN workers have taken advantage of to advance economically. According to CAP, AIAN women owned 1.4 percent of all female-owned businesses in 2018, an increase of 201 percent since 1997. Native-led organizations are also focused on investing in women. A New-Mexico-based collaborative, “The Future is Indigenous Women,” is focused on creating economic pathways for Native women entrepreneurs.

Pathak highlights that while local investments are critical, more investment is required at the federal level. The report urges the federal government to do more to center the economic mobility of Native women in national COVID-19 recovery efforts. Pathak outlines several equitable policy recommendations to support AIAN women such as passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to close the wage gap, expand critical work-family policies like the EITC and CTC, and pass policies that would enforce anti-discrimination and workplace protections for AIAN women. The report highlights that policies like the EITC and CTC boost incomes and enable families to access affordable childcare.

Read the full report here.