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Trends in the Level and Distribution of Income Support

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24

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  • Robert Moffitt
  • John Karl Scholz

Abstract

Means-tested and social insurance programs in the U.S. have been transformed over the last 25 years, with expansions in Medicare and Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Supplemental Security Income, and with contractions in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. We examine the effect of these changes on benefits received by families. We find that transfer program expenditures in total rose from 1984 to 2004 but the increase was spread unevenly across different demographic groups and income classes. Very poor elderly, disabled, and childless families received greatly increased expenditures, mostly arising from Social Security, SSDI, SSI, and the health programs. Very poor single parent and two-parent households experienced declines in expenditures, driven largely by lower recipiency rates, benefit receipt, or both in the AFDC/TANF and Food Stamp programs. For example, AFDC-TANF participation for one-adult families with children and market income below 50 percent of the poverty line fell from 62 percent in 1984 to 24 percent in 2004. However, expenditures received by one- and two-parent households further up the income scale increased, largely because of expansions of the EITC. Thus there was a redistribution of income from the very poor to the near-poor and nonpoor for these one- and two-parent households, as well as an overall relative redistribution from them to the elderly, disabled, and childless.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jeffrey R. Brown, 2010. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brow09-1, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11969.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11969

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    References

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    1. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2009. "Five Decades of Consumption and Income Poverty," Working Papers 0907, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
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    Cited by:
    1. Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Sebastian Siegloch & Andreas Peichl, 2011. "Tax-Benefit Systems in Europe and the US: Between Equity and Efficiency," Working Papers 201101, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    2. Berthold, Norbert & Coban, Mustafa, 2014. "Kombilöhne gegen Erwerbsarmut: Warum die USA erfolgreicher sind als Deutschland," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Beiträge 125, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Lehrstuhl für Volkswirtschaftslehre, insbes. Wirtschaftsordnung und Sozialpolitik.
    3. repec:ese:emodwp:em2-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Olga Gorbachev & Keshav Dogra, 2010. "Evolution of Consumption Volatility for the Liquidity Constrained Households over 1983 to 2004," Working Papers 10-12, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    5. María Laura Alzúa & Guillermo Cruces & Laura Ripani, 2010. "Welfare Programs and Labor Supply in Developing Countries. Experimental Evidence from Latin America," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0095, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    6. Leoš Vítek, 2011. "Fiscal Instruments of a Support of the Families with Children and their Changes in Developed Countries," European Financial and Accounting Journal, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2011(4), pages 60-84.
    7. Bönke, Timm & Eichfelder, Sebastian & Utz, Stephen, 2012. "Uneven treatment of family life? Horizontal equity in the U.S. tax and transfer system," Discussion Papers 2012/18, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

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