Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2008. Unit of Analysis


The individual, rather than the family or household, is the unit of analysis for most of the statistics in this report. The individual’s dependency status, however, is generally based on total family income, taking into account means-tested assistance, earnings and other sources of income for all individuals in the family.1 The introductory chapter of this report, for example, shows the percentage of individuals that are dependent (in SUM 1) or poor (in SUM 2) according to annual total family income. Recipiency status is also based on total annual family income in some instances; in SUM 1, for example, recipients are individuals in families receiving assistance at some point in the year. In most other indicators, however, recipiency is measured as the direct receipt of a benefit by an individual in a month. The difference between an individual and a family measure of recipiency is largest in the SSI program, which provides benefits to individuals and couples, not to families.

1 Family is generally defined as following the broad U.S. Census Bureau definition of family — all persons residing together that are related by birth, marriage, or adoption.

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