Most rich countries besides the US have hit on a surprisingly simple approach to reducing child poverty: just giving parents money.  This idea, known as a child benefit or child allowance, exists in almost every EU country as well as in Canada and Australia. In many countries, the payments are truly universal; you get the money no matter how much you earn. In others, like Canada, the payments phase out for top earners but almost everyone else benefits. France has a weird scheme where only families with two or more children get benefits, as an incentive to have more kids.

But the core principle is the same in every system: Low and middle-income families are entitled to substantial cash benefits to help them raise their children.This helps explain why European countries are so much better at fighting child poverty than the US is. While about 11.8 percent of US children live in absolute poverty (as indicated by the US poverty line), only 6.2 percent of German children do, and only 3.6 percent of Swedish children. The numbers get even worse when you define poverty like most European countries do, as living under half the median income. By that standard, 20 percent of children in the US live in poverty, compared to only about 10.3 percent in Germany or 4.9 percent in the Netherlands. This isn’t exclusively due to child benefits, but they play a crucial role.

The US has only a patchwork system of subsidies for parents, and the major benefit, the Child Tax Credit, is limited in ways that make it unhelpful to the Americans who need cash assistance the most. During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton proposed doubling the credit for young children and making it more generous to low earners. And some Republicans, including Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, have warmed to the idea of expanding the child tax credit, while still requiring parents to work for it.

Read more: Child poverty in the US is a disgrace. Experts are embracing this simple plan to cut it. – Vox