Performance Improvement 2008. How Dependent Are Americans On Social Welfare Programs?


This analysis of indicators of welfare dependence for the tenth annual report to Congress examined the extent to which Americans were dependent on social welfare programs. The analysis identified welfare dependence indicators through 2004, reflecting changes that had taken place since enactment of major welfare reform legislation in 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The analysis used a variety of data sources, including the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Current Population Survey data were analyzed using the Transfer Income Model (TRIM3) microsimulation model, which simulates the major governmental tax, transfer, and health programs that affect the U.S. population and helps to correct for under-reporting of benefit receipt.

Overall, three million fewer Americans were dependent on welfare in 2004 compared to 1996. Indicators from the data sources showed a substantial decline in the percentage of individuals dependent upon welfare since 1996, concurrent with the more widely reported declines in the percentage of individuals receiving welfare benefits. In 2004, 3.7 percent of the total population was dependent upon welfare benefits, in that they received more than half of their total family income from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Food Stamp, and/or Supplemental Security Income programs. While slightly higher than the 3.6 percent dependency rate measured in 2003, the 2004 rate was lower than the 5.2 percent rate measured in 1996.

Report Title: Indicators of Welfare Dependence Annual Report to Congress 2007,
Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy
Federal Contact: Susan Hauan, 202-690-8698
Performer: Staff of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
PIC ID: 8581

View full report


"PerformanceImprovement2008.pdf" (pdf, 1.29Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®