Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1998. Indicator 1. Degree of Dependence

10/01/1998

This indicator captures the degree of dependence by examining total family income and the percentage of total family income from means-tested assistance programs.

Figure IND 1a. Percentage of Total Income from Means-Tested Assistance Programs for the Total Population, 1994

Figure IND 1a. Percentage of Total Income from Means-Tested Assistance Programs for the Total Population, 1994

Source: Table IND 1a.


  • Less than 6 percent of the total population in 1994 received more than half of their total income from AFDC, Food Stamps and SSI.
  • Eighty-two percent of the total population received no means-tested assistance in 1994. Table IND 1a reveals a similar pattern for 1993 (82 percent), 1992 (83 percent), 1990 (86 percent) and 1987 (85 percent).
  • For all persons who received some assistance, most received 25 percent or less of their total family income from AFDC, Food Stamps and SSI (10 percent of the total population). Table IND 1a shows similar percentages for other years (10 percent in 1993, 9 percent in 1992, 8 percent in 1990, and 8 percent in 1987).
  • As shown in Table IND 1a, a larger percentage of non-Hispanic blacks received more than 50 percent of their income from means-tested assistance programs than Hispanics or non-Hispanic whites in all five years presented. However, even in these groups more than 80 percent were not dependent on welfare under the definition used here.

Table IND 1a. Percentage of Total Income from Means-Tested Assistance Programs for the Total Population, Selected Years

  0% > 0% and <= 25% > 25% and <= 50% Total > 50% > 50% and <= 75% Total > 75%

Note: Means-tested assistance includes AFDC, SSI and Food Stamps. While only affecting a small number of cases, general assistance income is included within AFDC income. Total > 50% includes all persons with more than 50 percent of their income from these means-tested programs. The 1993 data have been revised based on the 1993 SIPP panel; the 1993 data in earlier reports were drawn from an earlier SIPP panel.

Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1987, 1990, 1992 and 1993 panels.

1994
All Persons 82 9.9 2.5 5.6 1.6 4
Non-Hispanic White 88.9 7.1 1.4 2.6 0.9 1.7
Non-Hispanic Black 56.8 20 6.3 16.8 5.1 11.7
Hispanic 62.9 17.9 6.3 12.9 3.2 9.7
Children Age 0 - 5 67.6 14.6 5.3 12.5 2.8 9.7
Children Age 6 - 10 71.4 12.6 4 12 3 9
Children Age 11 - 15 75.1 11.8 3.9 9.3 2.6 6.7
Women Age 16 - 64 82.5 9.7 2.3 5.5 1.7 3.8
Men Age 16 – 64 87.7 8.4 1.4 2.5 0.9 1.6
Adults Age 65 and over 87.7 8.2 2 2.2 1 1.1
1993
All Persons 82.2 9.5 2.5 5.9 1.6 4.3
Non-Hispanic White 88.8 7 1.4 2.8 0.8 2
Non-Hispanic Black 58.6 17.7 6.9 16.7 5 11.8
Hispanic 62.9 17.2 5.7 14.2 3.2 11
Children Age 0 - 5 68.5 13.9 4.3 13.3 2.9 10.4
Children Age 6 - 10 72.8 11.1 3.9 12.3 2.7 9.7
Children Age 11 - 15 75.9 10.2 3.4 10.5 2.8 7.6
Women Age 16 - 64 82.2 9.5 2.5 5.8 1.7 4.1
Men Age 16 – 64 87.7 8.2 1.4 2.7 0.8 1.9
Adults Age 65 and over 88.1 7.7 2.3 2 0.8 1.2
1992
All Persons 83.1 9.3 2.7 4.9 1.4 3.5
Non-Hispanic White 89 6.8 1.8 2.4 0.8 1.6
Non-Hispanic Black 59 18.3 6.9 15.9 4.1 11.7
Hispanic 66.7 17.6 5.1 10.5 2.5 8
Children Age 0 - 5 71.1 12.1 4.6 12.2 3 9.3
Children Age 6 - 10 76.2 10.7 3.6 9.5 2.6 6.9
Children Age 11 - 15 76.8 11.9 3.8 7.5 2.1 5.4
Women Age 16 - 64 83 9.2 2.8 5 1.3 3.7
Men Age 16 – 64 88.2 8.2 1.6 1.9 0.7 1.3
Adults Age 65 and over 87.4 8 2.5 2 1 1.1
1990
All Persons 85.9 7.9 2 4.2 1.2 3
Non-Hispanic White 91.1 5.7 1.1 2.1 0.6 1.5
Non-Hispanic Black 63.4 16 6 14.6 5.2 9.3
Hispanic 70.5 16.8 4.4 8.3 2.1 6.2
Children Age 0 - 5 76 11 2.8 10.3 2.4 7.9
Children Age 6 - 10 79.8 9.2 2.6 8.5 2.4 6
Children Age 11 - 15 81.2 9.6 2.8 6.4 1.8 4.5
Women Age 16 - 64 85.9 7.7 1.8 4.6 1.3 3.2
Men Age 16 – 64 90.5 6.7 1.3 1.5 0.5 1
Adults Age 65 and over 87.9 7.4 2.8 1.9 1 0.9
1987
All Persons 85.1 8.2 2.1 4.7 1.3 3.3
Non-Hispanic White 90.7 5.8 1.3 2.2 0.9 1.3
Non-Hispanic Black 59.1 18.7 6.5 15.7 3.9 11.8
Hispanic 71.7 13.6 3.8 10.9 2.2 8.7
Children Age 0 - 5 75.5 10.9 3.7 10 2.7 7.3
Children Age 6 - 10 76.8 10.5 2.6 10.1 2.8 7.3
Children Age 11 - 15 80.2 9.2 2.6 8 1.6 6.4
Women Age 16 - 64 85.6 7.9 1.9 4.6 1.1 3.5
Men Age 16 – 64 89.9 6.8 1.4 2 0.8 1.2
Adults Age 65 and over 86.4 8.6 2.5 2.6 1.4 1.2

Figure IND 1b. Percentage of Recipients with More than 50 Percent of Income from AFDC and Food Stamps by Number of Years

Figure IND 1b. Percentage of Recipients with More than 50 Percent of Income from AFDC and Food Stamps by Number of Years

Source: Table IND 1b.


  • For half of all recipients, AFDC and Food Stamps made up 50 percent or less of their total income in all years between 1982 and 1991. As shown in Table IND 1b, this was also true for 55 percent of all recipients between 1972 and 1981.
  • The percentage of recipients who received more than 50 percent of their total income from AFDC and Food Stamps for 6 to10 years during the 1982 to 1991 period is considerably smaller than the corresponding percentage who were dependent for 1 to 5 years (13 percent compared to 38 percent).
  • As shown in Table IND 1b, among child recipients, the percentage of black children who were not dependent—that is, were in families who did not receive more than 50 percent of their income from AFDC and Food Stamps in any year increased across the two time periods (from 24 percent to 31 percent). In comparison, the percentage of non-black recipient children who were not dependent decreased substantially across the two time periods (from 50 percent to 37 percent).

Table IND 1b. Percentage of Recipients with More than 50 Percent of Income from AFDC and Food Stamps by Number of Years

  All Recipients: 1982 - 1991
Cumulative Years All Recipients Black Non-Black
  100% 100% 100%
0 Years 50 43 54
1 - 2 Years 23 21 25
3 - 5 Years 15 17 14
6 - 8 Years 9 12 6
9 - 10 Years 4 7 2
  Children 0 - 5 in 1982: 1982 - 1991
Cumulative Years All Child Recipients Black Non-Black
  100% 100% 100%
0 Years 34 31 37
1 - 2 Years 28 19 35
3 - 5 Years 16 18 15
6 - 8 Years 13 19 9
9 - 10 Years 8 14 4
  All Recipients: 1972 - 1981
Cumulative Years All Recipients Black Non-Black
  100% 100% 100%
0 Years 55 44 62
1 - 2 Years 22 22 22
3 - 5 Years 14 19 11
6 - 8 Years 5 9 3
9 - 10 Years 4 7 2
  Children 0 - 5 in 1972: 1972 - 1981
Cumulative Years All Child Recipients Black Non-Black
  100% 100% 100%

Note: Recipients are defined as individuals receiving at least $1 of AFDC or Food Stamps in the first year (1982 or 1972). Child recipients are defined by age in the first year.

Source: Unpublished data from the PSID, 1972 - 1991.

0 Years 39 24 50
1 - 2 Years 25 27 23
3 - 5 Years 21 27 17
6 - 8 Years 6 9 4
9 - 10 Years 9 12 6

Figure IND 1c. Percentage of Total Income from Various Sources by Poverty Status, 1994

Figure IND 1c. Percentage of Total Income from Various Sources by Poverty Status, 1994

Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1993 panel.


  • Not surprisingly, poorer families received a larger percentage of their income from transfer programs and Food Stamps while wealthier families received a larger percentage of their income from earnings.
  • Poor individuals (those in families with incomes below100 percent of poverty) received 42 percent of their total family income from means-tested assistance programs (transfer income and Food Stamps). In contrast, the percentage of total family income from means-tested assistance programs is much lower for those who are at least 200 percent above the poverty line (less than one percent).
  • Those living in deep poverty (total family income less than 50 percent of the poverty line) relied heavily on transfer income from AFDC and SSI (38 percent of total family income) as well as Food Stamps (35 percent of total family income).
  • The composition of income for all poor persons (less than 100 percent of poverty) is significantly different than the composition for those living in deep poverty (less than 50 percent of poverty). For example, the percentage of income from earnings for all poor individuals is more than twice the percent for those in deep poverty (40 percent compared to 16 percent). Those in deep poverty also rely much more heavily on income from transfer programs and Food Stamps compared to the full poverty population.

Table IND 1c. Percentage of Total Income from Various Sources by Poverty Status, 1994

  <50% of poverty <100% of poverty <150% of poverty <200% of poverty 200%+ of poverty

Note: Transfer income is defined as AFDC and SSI. While only affecting a small number of cases, general assistance income is included in AFDC income. Other income is non-means-tested, nonearnings income such as child support, alimony, pensions, Social Security benefits, interest and dividends. Poverty status categories are not mutually exclusive.

Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1993 panel.

All Persons
Means-Tested Transfer Income 38.2 25.7 15.1 9 0.2
Food Stamps 34.6 16 8.8 5 0
Earnings 15.9 40.3 54.7 64.6 85.1
Other Income 11.3 18 21.5 21.4 14.6
Average Income $ 6,946 $ 10,708 $ 13,377 $ 16,740 $ 57,249
Racial Categories
Non-Hispanic White          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 28 20 10.5 5.5 0.2
Food Stamps 30.3 13.2 6.4 3.1 0
Earnings 24.2 42.9 55 64.8 84.3
Other Income 17.8 21.1 24.6 23.7 15.1
Average Income $ 5,296 $ 9,589 $ 12,609 $ 16,448 $ 58,188
Non-Hispanic Black          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 44.1 31.5 21.8 15.4 0.6
Food Stamps 40.5 20.2 12.7 8.8 0.2
Earnings 8.3 31 47.3 58.8 88.4
Other Income 6.5 17.5 18.1 16.8 10.4
Average Income $ 7,571 $ 10,773 $ 13,470 $ 16,427 $ 46,819
Hispanic          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 41 25.4 15.7 11.2 0.5
Food Stamps 34 16.6 9.8 6.5 0.1
Earnings 15.3 46.6 62 70 89.9
Other Income 6.2 14.7 16.2 15.6 10.4
Average Income $ 8,709 $ 12,666 $ 15,114 $ 17,918 $ 48,917
Age Categories
Children Age 0 - 5          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 44.4 28.6 17.9 11.8 0.2
Food Stamps 37.1 19.6 12.1 7.7 0.1
Earnings 11.2 40.8 58.8 70 93.4
Other Income 0 0 0 0 0
Average Income $ 7,825 $ 11,813 $ 14,763 $ 18,236 $ 59,336
Children Age 6 - 10          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 39.9 28.2 18 11.4 0.2
Food Stamps 36.9 18.3 11.1 6.8 0
Earnings 14.7 40.9 58.1 70 93
Other Income 6.5 10.1 10.5 9.8 5.9
Average Income $ 8,675 $ 12,802 $ 15,688 $ 19,408 $ 63,068
Children Age 11 - 15          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 37.2 27.7 16.7 9.7 0.2
Food Stamps 35.8 17.9 10.5 6 0
Earnings 16.9 39.9 56.7 68.9 92.4
Other Income 8.5 12.6 12.8 11.5 6.5
Average Income $ 8,628 $ 12,822 $ 15,718 $ 19,780 $ 65,892
Women Age 16 - 64          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 36.9 26.6 15.5 9.2 0.2
Food Stamps 33.6 15.5 8.5 4.8 0
Earnings 17.2 40.6 57.4 68.4 87.8
Other Income 18.6 20.2 21.8 19.7 10.9
Average Income $ 6,126 $ 9,808 $ 12,636 $ 16,045 $ 57,632
Men Age 16 - 64          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 23.5 18.7 10.7 6 0.2
Food Stamps 25.8 11.6 5.8 3 0
Earnings 27.1 50.3 63.1 72.7 89.1
Other Income 18.5 17.6 18.6 17.1 11.2
Average Income $ 4,837 $ 10,173 $ 13,488 $ 17,335 $ 58,751
Adults Age 65 and over          
Means-Tested Transfer Income 18.1 16.4 9.9 5.8 0.4
Food Stamps 16.2 4.1 1.9 1 0
Earnings 9.1 2.2 5.1 7.8 24.8
Other Income 25.4 26.4 26.4 25.1 17.3
Average Income $ 2,970 $ 6,400 $ 8,877 $ 11,199 $ 39,791

 

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