Social Security is the Most Effective Anti-Poverty Program in the U.S., In One Chart

Tomorrow, the U.S. House Committee on the Budget is holding a hearing on the progress of the War on Poverty. While the United States is still slowly recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, fortunately this time around government safety net programs have been in place to keep more people from falling into poverty. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) shows the strength of the government to mitigate the incidence of poverty.

As the figure below shows, Social Security is, by far, the most effective anti-poverty program in the United States. Without Social Security, an additional 8.3 percent of Americans, or over 25 million more people, would fall below the SPM poverty threshold. Refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, kept 2.5 percent, or nearly 8 million Americans above the SPM poverty threshold. Other programs such as SNAP (food stamps), unemployment insurance, Supplemental Security Income, and housing subsidies also have a significant impact on the ability of families to stay afloat.

Source: http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research/Short_ResearchSPM2011.pdf

 


  • Raymond Firehock

    Are these rates additive? For example, if there were no workers comp the SPM rate would rise by 0.1 percent to 16.2. If there were no WIC it would also rise to 16.2. If there were neither, would it then by 0.2 percent higher, or 16.3? And so forth.