Two Steps Forward and Three Steps Back: The “Cliff Effect” – Colorado’s Curious Penalty for Increased Earnings

Investigator(s): Prepared by National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health for The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and the Women and Family Action Network Coalition


This paper shows the challenges that ensue for families who are just above the poverty level. Eagle County is one of the counties featured and it also shows how the needs budget for Eagle is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than other Colorado counties. Perhaps useful for grants to make the case about Eagle’s uniqueness.

“This report documents the cliff effect in seven Colorado counties. The counties were selected to provide insight into how the cliff effect impacts families across the state. Analyses were conducted for four urban counties (Denver, El Paso, Pueblo, and Mesa); two rural counties (Alamosa and Morgan); and one resort county (Eagle).” (Two Steps Forward and Three Steps Back, p.1)

“The bottom line is that…Employment at low wages is not enough to support a family, and while work supports help, the cliff effect makes it difficult for Colorado’s families to get ahead by working and earning more.” (Two Steps Forward and Three Steps Back, p.8)

Dataset Dates: varied

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Date of Publication: June 2007

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