Who Benefits From the Safety Net (participation)

Who Benefits From the Safety Net


A new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities underscores that the poor are no longer the primary beneficiaries of the government safety net.

Terms like entitlements, government benefits and safety net often conjure images of tax dollars sliding from the hands of the wealthy into the pockets of the poor. But as we reported Sunday, that image is badly outdated. Benefits now flow primarily to the middle class.

The center’s study found that the poorest American households, the bottom fifth, received just 32 cents of every dollar of government benefits distributed in 2010.

Share of population and entitlements by income group, 2010. Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of data from Office of Management and Budget, United States Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and Census Bureau. Spreadsheet (.xls)

The finding is broadly consistent with the data we reported Sunday that the poorest households received 36 percent of benefits in 2007, down from 54 percent in 1979, numbers that came from a study published last year by the Congressional Budget Office.

While the findings are not directly comparable because of differences in methodology, the new study suggests that the recent recession did not cause any significant increase in the share of benefits flowing to the poor, as might once have been expected.

The study found that older people received slightly more than half of government benefits, while the nonelderly with disabilities received an additional 20 percent. Most of these benefits are not means-tested – indeed, better-paid workers get more in Social Security.

Furthermore, the study notes that politicians have shifted benefits away from the “jobless poor,” through reductions in traditional welfare, and increased benefits for working families, for example through tax credits. The government also has steadily expanded eligibility for benefit programs.

“The safety net became much more work-based,” wrote Arloc Sherman and his collaborators at the center, a left-leaning research group. “In addition, the U.S. population is aging, which raises the share of benefits going to seniors and people with disabilities.”

Another finding of the study is that the distribution of benefits no longer aligns with the demography of poverty. African-Americans, who make up 22 percent of the poor, receive 14 percent of government benefits, close to their 12 percent population share.

White non-Hispanics, who make up 42 percent of the poor, receive 69 percent of government benefits – again, much closer to their 64 percent population share.


14 thoughts on “Who Benefits From the Safety Net (participation)

  1. I don’t understand why the poor would not be the primary beneficiaries of the government safety net, isn’t it there to help the people that need money so they can live comfortably? I don’t think that the middle class or the top 20% is in need of this money as much as the bottom 20% and that this needs to be redistributed so that the people that need the money the most are receiving it. Also, I think it is a little disturbing that if blacks make up 22% of the poor that they they are only receiving 14% of the money. This should be a more equal distribution. I think that if the numbers matched up closer so that blacks in the poor region received 20% of the money then it would make the overall distribution of how much money the bottom 20% gets more fair.

  2. Overall, I think it is a good thing that the safety net is becoming more work based while still giving more to the aging population and the portion of the population with disabilities. I think that those two groups of people are definitely in need, but I think wealth and their economic status should also be taken into account. The government should be focusing more on the bottom 20% of the population but especially those in that group that are elderly or have disabilities. After that it should be focusing on everyone in the bottom 20% of the population, and then only after this, should there be focus on the wealthier population.
    This being said, I don’t agree with the racial disparities among the amount of aid being given. No matter what economic level people are in, their race shouldn’t be taken into account when the government is deciding how much money is being spent.

  3. The new analysis from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the government safety net which provides entitlements and benefits to those in need provides more benefits to middle class families and elderly Americans than poor Americans. In 1979 the poorest Americans received 54% of benefits but only 32% in 2010. This is because during this economic downturn more financial stress has been added to middle class families and the government is required to fulfill its financial obligation to elderly Americans by providing the social security and Medicaid that was promised to them. The middle class is having such a hard time because fixed expenses are a larger part of a families budgets than ever before so more and more people are requiring help from the government because of increased living costs. I am pleased to see that more benefits are being handed to middle class families because they’re the driving force of the countries economy. After the next 20-30 years our government should have to spend less money on the elderly which then can be used to help more middle class and poor Americans. As far as who receives benefits I believe it should be based solely off of financial needs instead of race.

  4. From this article, it is clear that the benefits and safety net have shifted to become more work based. This article helped to point out the amount of wealth that is distributed to Americans based on economic level. Although the poorest African American households received only 32% of benefits distributed in 2010, there are reasons for the lower percentage. The benefits given out by the government have become a lot more work-based. The benefits are going more towards aging populations and people with disabilities. This is due to hard economic times which creates a heavier focus on social security and medicare in which the government promised to aging populations. The benefits have shifted away from the “jobless poor” and more to aging populations, which may seem like a negative but it is necessary. I do not look at the shift as a negative because the government has to be responsible for supporting the working class in hard economic times. Also there has become a much heavier focus on recent problems with social security and medicare for the large aging population. Distribution of benefits no longer aligns with demographic of poverty because the government needs to support the aging population and preserve a struggling working class.

  5. In my opinion, I do not think it is good but I can understand why government do this. PIcture this, what happen if American government treat every kind of eually. One cause is more and more want to come to America, and they will try every way they can do. That will bring some effects to America, more money cost, for example. Of course there will be more questions appear. That is why I totally understand why government do that. On the other hand, I do not think government should make poor people and rich people diffierent, 10 dollar have diffierent meaning for poor people and rich people. If we want to know how good a country is, I think it is not how many rich people do you have, how many big companies do you have. It is how many poor people do you have, and how much government care about poor people.
    In conclusion, I don not think government should treat people diffierent, but I can totally understand why they do that.

  6. What I don’t understand is how the US government can justify the distribution of Entitlements displayed in the graphs. Especially when the Entitlement program says, “The most important examples of entitlement programs at the federal level in the United States would include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, most Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs.” The ideology that “working families” should receive more support, at the cost of reducing “traditional welfare” is absolutely asinine. How does the government expect for more “working families” to develop without any aid? This system is one that will only bring stasis to those who are already on their feet, and will do nothing for those who are struggling.

  7. After doing my last online writing where I was supposed to make a budget for a family of four I realized how hard it is for poor families to get by. In the writing I had about $18,000 a year to spend, which was nearly impossible to do. In this graph it is showing that the majority of the money is not going to the people who desperately need it for everyday necessities, but instead going to people of the working class who are not scraping to get by. I do not think that it is fair that these are the people who benefit from the government’s safety net the most. Almost all of the money should be going towards people who do make around $18,000 or less every year. It seems that this issue needs to be revisited and reconstructed so that the people who really need this money are receiving it.

  8. I find it strange that the poor, who should be the primary beneficiaries of the government safety net, are no longer the primary beneficiaries. The government safety nets were created to help get the poor on their feet again and back into the working class. However, even with the current recession, the center’s study has found that only 36% of the poorest families receive benefits while in 1979 54% received benefits. This is due to the growing amount of elderly who were products of the Baby Boom now needed social security, these baby boomers receive about half of the government benefits and because there population is so large it makes it difficult for anyone else to receive benefits. Another change is that the government is giving more social security and increased benefits to people who are working because the government wants to reward those who are working and helping the economy, while shifting benefits way from the jobless. In my opinion this shift does work because it is helping the people who have jobs, keep them and put money back into the economy, but what about all the poor and jobless who cannot obtain jobs and benefit from government programs. They will continue to stay poor and jobless which does not do any good for society or the economy.

  9. It is quite obvious from the chart given in this analysis that the middle class receives a great amount of the entitled benefits and this is why. The rich (the people who make over about $200,000 a year) are obviously taxed the most, and given little to no benefits. Then there is the poor who make about $20,000 dollars a year or less who receives about 14% of the benefits. The middle class receives the highest percentage of benefits, because that is where the majority of people lie. There are a huge number of people who make more than $20,000 a year, but less than $200,000 a year which is why the majority of benefits is given to that section of the population. The poor, also, receive benefits all throughout the year such as food stamps and welfare, which is why they are given less free money to blow. The middle class is up and coming to a point where the government wants them to succeed and do better to get above that $200,000 dollar mark where they then would have to give them less and less benefits altogether. Professionals for a certain reason set up the government’s safety net, not just by luck or likelihood. Benefits go to where it is needed and deserved. The rich complain about the increase in taxes, while the poor cry for more help. Stop complaining and worry about bettering your life. Otherwise you are wasting your time.

  10. After reading this article it is clear now what the government wants the safety net to provide, apparently it is not as much into helping the poor as in years past. Instead the focus is now on the middle working class. The opposite idea when before I read the article I thought that the lower class would receive the most benefits from the government. The lower class is almost forgotten in today’s benefits from the government. It seems that the government is almost forgetting about the poor and focusing on the middle class as if they are the new poor. The government should not turn their back on the people that have fallen into poverty but instead lend them a hand-up so that they can get back on their feet.

  11. According to the studies and graph, it is clear that the government safety net is now aiming its primary benefits and entitlements to the middle class. This shift in the people getting these benefits is moving from the poor to the middle class due to the recession that our country is currently in. Although it provides an incentive for the working class to keep working, finding a job right now in the economic situation that America is in is quite difficult. These benefits, and the amount of money being distributed by the government, needs to be redistributed to the poor, as the poor class are the people that need the extra money/support to survive. The rich don’t need any of the money of this government safety blanket, as they have a “safety blanket” of their own to fall back on when money becomes tight. The amount of money distributed needs to shift from the rich class to the middle/poor class, as they are the ones in need of the financial help that comes with government entitlement programs.

  12. I think that what they are doing with government money is a good thing. I agree that those people with disabilities and elderly people are people that are need. But I also think that the government needs to think about the others as well. I understand that disabled and elderly people can no longer work and do what poor and working class people do even if they wanted but the government should think about those that can. The government should realize that those “poor” or “working class” people are working in the U.S. and helping the country make money. Since they are helping business go on and this country to keep going they should also get the help they need or at least part. It kind of doesn’t sound fair for someone who doesn’t do anything for the country to get the benefits and those that do to not get them, and I know it may not be because they don’t want to but because they cant. When I finished reading this I was glad to have read it. I am Mexicana and I am tired of people of saying that Mexicans and “poor” people are the people that are always getting help from the money, that they don’t deserve and that they cause so much problems in this country. Honestly not very many Mexicans qualify for anything besides WIC because some are not legally in the U.S. and therefore won’t get the help many people say they get. For instance the health insurance, many immigrants get legal or not get charged taxes just like everyone else and they get money deducted from their pay checks whether they are using a legal security number or a false one. Some studies show that they end up paying thousands of dollars to the health people when most don’t even health insurance. Mexicans contribute to this country in many ways.

  13. It is interesting that the safety net is in place to prevent the poor or those in poverty from falling below a certain poverty level but the article is saying that it is no longer providing these services. The poor which are the supposed to benefit from this government policy are now falling below the poverty line. After the recession, the center’s study shows that only 36% of the poorest families receive benefits but in 1979 54% receive benefits. The reason for this change is because of the sky rocket in elderly people who are in need of social security that the government promised them. I understand that it is hard to distribute the money where there are so many people in need of this security net, although we have to still keep in mind what the safety net is in place for. According to the chart, there is a huge number of people who make more than 20,000 dollars. Just because the majority of people lie within the middle class doesn’t mean more of that money should be going to them. The government is forgetting about the poor and focusing on the middle class. The money that the government distributes needs to shift and say focused on what it was meant for.

  14. I think there are a lot of people will wonder why poor people only get so little benefits from the Safety Net. In my view, the difference between the rich and the poor is difficult to eliminate. I understand why the government should do this; it can help maintain the gap between the poor and rich. The poor could get more benefits if government spend more money on welfare.

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