Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2001 . Indicator 3: Rates of Receipt of Means-tested Assistance

03/01/2001

Figure IND 3a. Percentage of the Total Population Receiving AFDC/TANF, by Age: 1970-1999

Figure IND 3a. Percentage of the Total Population Receiving AFDC/TANF, by Age: 1970-1999

Source:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Age and Sex, April 1, 1990 to July 1, 2000, Internet release date January 2, 2001 (Available online at http://www.census.gov).


  • Although the survey data needed to examine overall welfare receipt and dependency are not yet available past 1998, administrative data for AFDC/TANF, food stamps, and SSI provide measures of recipiency for each of these three programs through 1999, as shown in Figures IND 3a, IND 3b, and IND 3c.  Additional administrative data are shown in Appendix A.

  • Less than 3 percent of the population received TANF in 1999.  This is the lowest rate of AFDC/TANF receipt in the 28 years shown in Table IND 3a.  The percentage of the total population receiving AFDC/TANF has dropped significantly since 1994, when it was at a 25-year high of over 5 percent. 
  • AFDC/TANF recipiency rates have been much higher over time for children than for adults, with the child recipiency rates also showing more pronounced changes over time. Between 1993 and 1999, the receipt of AFDC/TANF receipt among children was cut in half (from 14 to 7 percent), the most rapid decline in a generation.

Table IND 3a. Number and Percentage of the Total Population Receiving AFDC/TANF, by Age: 1970-1999

  Total Recipients Number Adult Recipients Number Child Recipients Number
Fiscal Year (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent
1970 7,188 3.5 1,863 1.4 5,325 7.6
1971 9,281 4.5 2,516 1.8 6,765 9.7
1972 10,345 4.9 2,848 2.0 7,497 10.8
1973 10,760 5.1 2,984 2.1 7,776 11.3
1974 10,591 5.0 2,935 2.0 7,656 11.3
1975 10,854 5.0 3,078 2.1 7,776 11.6
1976 11,171 5.1 3,271 2.2 7,900 11.9
1977 10,933 5.0 3,230 2.1 7,703 11.8
1978 10,485 4.7 3,128 2.0 7,357 11.4
1979 10,146 4.5 3,071 1.9 7,075 11.0
1980 10,422 4.6 3,226 2.0 7,196 11.3
1981 10,979 4.8 3,491 2.1 7,488 11.8
1982 10,233 4.4 3,395 2.0 6,838 10.9
1983 10,467 4.5 3,548 2.1 6,919 11.1
1984 10,677 4.5 3,652 2.1 7,025 11.2
1985 10,630 4.5 3,589 2.0 7,041 11.2
1986 10,810 4.5 3,637 2.1 7,173 11.4
1987 10,878 4.5 3,624 2.0 7,254 11.5
1988 10,734 4.4 3,536 2.0 7,198 11.4
1989 10,741 4.4 3,503 1.9 7,238 11.4
1990 11,263 4.5 3,643 2.0 7,620 11.9
1991 12,391 4.9 4,016 2.1 8,375 12.9
1992 13,423 5.3 4,336 2.3 9,087 13.7
1993 13,943 5.4 4,519 2.4 9,424 14.1
1994 14,033 5.4 4,554 2.4 9,479 14.0
1995 13,479 5.1 4,322 2.2 9,157 13.4
1996 12,476 4.7 3,920 2.0 8,556 12.4
1997 10,779 4.0 3,106 1.6 7,673 11.0
1998 8,633 3.2 2,573 1.3 6,060 8.7
1999 7,069 2.6 1,973 1.0 5,096 7.3

Notes:  See Appendix A, Tables TANF 2, TANF 12, and TANF 14, for more detailed data on recipiency rates, including recipiency rates by calendar year.  Recipients are expressed as the fiscal year average of monthly caseloads from administrative data, excluding recipients in the territories.  Child recipients include a small number of dependents ages 18 and older who are students. The average number of adult and child recipients in 1998 and 1999 is estimated using data from the Quality Control sample.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Age and Sex, April 1, 1990 to July 1, 2000, Internet release date January 2, 2001 (Available online at http://www.census.gov).


Figure IND 3b. Percentage of the Total Population Receiving Food Stamps, by Age: 1975-1999

Figure IND 3b. Percentage of the Total Population Receiving Food Stamps, by Age: 1975-1999

Source:  USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis, Nutrition, and Evaluation, Characteristics of Food Stamp Households, Fiscal Year 1999, and earlier reports, and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Age and Sex, April 1, 1990 to November 1, 2000, Internet release date January 2, 2001 (Available online at http://www.census.gov).


  • The food stamp recipiency rate, like the AFDC/TANF recipiency rate shown previously in Figure IND 3a, has fallen sharply in recent years.  The percentage of all persons receiving food stamps peaked in 1994, at nearly 11 percent, but dropped to less than 7 percent in 1999, its lowest point since 1979.
  • As with AFDC/TANF, food stamp recipiency rates have been much higher over time for children than for adults.  Between 1980 and 1999, the percentage of all children who received food stamps was between two and one-half to three times that for all adults 18 to 59.
  • Similar trends in food stamps recipiency – largely reflecting changes in the rate of unemployment and programmatic changes – existed across all age groups over time, as shown in Table IND 3b.  The percentages of individuals receiving food stamps within all age groups declined from 1984 through 1988, rose in the early 1990s, peaked in 1994, and fell sharply between 1994 and 1999.

Table IND 3b. Number and Percentage of the Total Population Receiving Food Stamps, by Age: 1975-1999

  Total Recipients Number Adult Recipients Age 60 and over Number Adult Recipients Ages 18-59 Number Child Recipients Ages 0-18 Number
Fiscal Year (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent
1975 17,217 8.0
1976 16,733 7.7
1977 15,579 7.1
1978 14,503 6.5
1979 15,976 7.1
1980 19,253 8.5 1,741 4.9 7,186 5.6 9,876 15.5
1981 20,654 9.0 1,845 5.0 7,811 6.0 9,803 15.5
1982 20,446 8.8 1,641 4.4 7,838 6.0 9,591 15.3
1983 21,667 9.3 1,654 4.4 8,960 6.7 10,910 17.4
1984 20,796 8.8 1,758 4.5 8,521 6.3 10,492 16.8
1985 19,847 8.3 1,783 4.5 8,258 6.1 9,906 15.8
1986 19,381 8.1 1,631 4.1 7,895 5.7 9,844 15.7
1987 19,072 7.9 1,589 3.9 7,684 5.5 9,771 15.5
1988 18,613 7.6 1,500 3.7 7,506 5.3 9,351 14.8
1989 18,778 7.6 1,582 3.8 7,560 5.3 9,429 14.9
1990 20,038 8.0 1,511 3.6 8,084 5.6 10,127 15.8
1991 22,599 9.0 1,593 3.8 9,190 6.4 11,952 18.4
1992 25,369 9.9 1,687 3.9 10,550 7.2 13,349 20.2
1993 26,952 10.5 1,876 4.4 11,214 7.6 14,196 21.2
1994 27,434 10.6 1,952 4.5 11,539 7.7 14,391 21.2
1995 26,579 10.1 1,896 4.3 10,962 7.3 13,860 20.2
1996 25,494 9.6 1,892 4.3 10,766 7.1 12,992 18.8
1997 22,820 8.5 1,834 4.1 9,385 6.1 11,871 17.1
1998 19,746 7.3 1,637 3.7 7,772 5.0 10,546 15.1
1999 18,149 6.7 1,666 3.8 7,090 4.5 9,354 13.3

Note: See Appendix A, Tables FSP 1 and FSP 6 for more detailed data on recipiency rates.  Recipients are expressed as the fiscal year average of monthly caseloads from administrative data, excluding recipients in the territories.

Source: USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis, Nutrition, and Evaluation, Characteristics of Food Stamp Households, Fiscal Year 1999, and earlier reports, and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Age and Sex, April 1, 1990 to November 1, 2000, Internet release date January 2, 2001 (Available online at http://www.census.gov).


Figure IND 3c. Percentage of the Total Population Receiving SSI, by Age: 1974-1999

Figure IND 3c. Percentage of the Total Population Receiving SSI, by Age: 1974-1999

Source:  Social Security Administration, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, Social Security Bulletin ·Annual Statistical Supplement · 2000 (Data available online at http://www.ssa.gov/statistics), and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Age and Sex, April 1, 1990 to November 1, 2000, Internet release date January 2, 2001 (Available online at http://www.census.gov).


  • Unlike the recipiency rates for AFDC/TANF and food stamps, which have been influenced by outside factors such as the economy and welfare reform, overall recipiency rates for SSI show less variation over time.  After trending downward slightly from 1975 to the early 1980s, the proportion of the total population that receives SSI has risen from 1.7 percent in 1983 to 2.4 percent in 1999.  As shown in Table IND 3c, the total number of recipients has grown by 70 percent over the same period, from 3.9 million to 6.6 million people.
  • Elderly adults (aged 65 and older) have much higher recipiency rates than any other age group.  The gap has narrowed, however, as percentage of adults aged 65 and older has been cut nearly in half, declining from 11 percent in 1974 to less than 6 percent in 1999.
  • The proportion of children receiving SSI increased gradually between 1975 and 1990, and grew more rapidly in the early-to-mid 1990s, reaching a high of 1.4 percent in 1996.  The rate has since fallen, with 1.2 percent of children receiving SSI in 1999.

Table IND 3c. Number and Percentage of the Total Population Receiving SSI, by Age: 1975-1999

  Total Recipients Number Adult Recipients Age 65 & over Number Adult Recipients Ages 18-64 Number Child Recipients Ages 0-18 Number
  (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent (thousands) Percent
Dec'75 4,314 2.0 2,508 10.9 1,699 1.3 107 0.2
Dec'76 4,236 1.9 2,397 10.2 1,714 1.3 125 0.2
Dec'77 4,238 1.9 2,353 9.7 1,738 1.3 147 0.2
Dec'78 4,217 1.9 2,304 9.3 1,747 1.3 166 0.3
Dec'79 4,150 1.8 2,246 8.8 1,727 1.3 177 0.3
Dec'80 4,142 1.8 2,221 8.6 1,731 1.2 190 0.3
Dec'81 4,019 1.7 2,121 8.0 1,703 1.2 195 0.3
Dec'82 3,858 1.7 2,011 7.4 1,655 1.2 192 0.3
Dec'83 3,901 1.7 2,003 7.3 1,700 1.2 198 0.3
Dec'84 4,029 1.7 2,037 7.2 1,780 1.2 212 0.3
Dec'85 4,138 1.7 2,031 7.1 1,879 1.3 227 0.4
Dec'86 4,269 1.8 2,018 6.9 2,010 1.3 241 0.4
Dec'87 4,385 1.8 2,015 6.7 2,119 1.4 251 0.4
Dec'88 4,464 1.8 2,006 6.6 2,203 1.5 255 0.4
Dec'89 4,593 1.9 2,026 6.5 2,302 1.5 265 0.4
Dec'90 4,817 1.9 2,059 6.5 2,450 1.6 309 0.5
Dec'91 5,118 2.0 2,080 6.5 2,642 1.7 397 0.6
Dec'92 5,566 2.2 2,100 6.5 2,910 1.9 556 0.8
Dec'93 5,984 2.3 2,113 6.4 3,148 2.0 723 1.1
Dec'94 6,296 2.4 2,119 6.3 3,335 2.1 841 1.2
Dec'95 6,514 2.5 2,115 6.3 3,482 2.2 917 1.3
Dec'96 6,630 2.5 2,110 6.2 3,568 2.2 955 1.4
Dec'97 6,495 2.4 2,054 6.0 3,562 2.2 880 1.3
Dec'98 6,566 2.4 2,033 5.9 3,646 2.2 887 1.3
Dec'99 6,557 2.4 2,019 5.8 3,691 2.2 847 1.2

Note:  December population figures used as the denominators are obtained by averaging the Census Bureau's July 1 population estimates for the current and the following year.  See Appendix A, Tables SSI 2, SSI 8, and SSI 9 for more detailed data on SSI recipiency rates.  In this report the categories of children under 18 and adults 18-64 differ from those in previous editions where the category of children included a small number of dependents 18 and older who were students.

Source: Social Security Administration, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, Social Security Bulletin, Annual Statistical Supplement, 2000 (Data available online at http://www.ssa.gov/statistics), and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Age and Sex, April 1, 1990 to November 1, 2000, Internet release date January 2, 2001 (Available online at http://www.census.gov).

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