How Much Does the Nation Spend on Welfare? - Public Aid

percent total programs billion

Public assistance has usually included such programs as Aid to Families with Dependent Children/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (AFDC/TANF), General Assistance, and Medicaid. In 2000 public assistance accounted for 43 percent of all public aid spending—a 48 percent increase since 1980. According to the U.S. Census

TABLE 1.1
Government expenditures for income-tested benefits by type of benefit, 1980–2000
[In millions of dollars (105,312 represents $105,312,000,000). For years ending September 30. Programs covered provide cash, goods, or services to persons who make no payment and render no service in return. In case of many programs, including family cash welfare, food and housing programs, job and training programs and some educational programs, some recipients must work or study. Most of the programs base eligibility on individual, household, or family income, but some use group or area income tests; and a few offer help on the basis of presumed need. Constant dollar figures are based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers]

Total spending Constant (2000) dollars
Level of government and year Current dollars Constant (2000) dollars Medical benefits Cash aid Food benefits Housing benefits Education benefits Jobs/training Services Energy aid
Total
1980 105,312 224,866 69,606 61,332 28,924 21,869 11,052 18,589 9,818 3,675
1985 144,291 231,158 79,204 60,294 32,666 24,207 15,972 6,370 8,773 3,672
1990 213,055 282,815 115,250 72,019 33,326 23,926 19,102 5,631 11,267 2,294
1993 314,451 374,152 170,155 89,003 43,237 32,672 17,941 6,346 12,889 1,909
1994 352,487 408,624 187,153 100,067 43,909 34,142 18,015 6,393 16,633 2,311
1995 371,109 418,484 196,922 103,291 43,558 35,764 18,146 6,132 12,775 1,896
1996 375,310 411,725 195,199 101,426 42,876 35,656 17,967 5,138 12,090 1,373
1997 384,465 410,821 198,815 99,463 39,908 35,561 18,737 4,246 12,587 1,502
1998 394,687 414,944 203,549 96,269 36,906 34,681 19,052 5,142 17,939 1,405
1999 408,405 421,379 213,619 96,576 35,718 29,848 19,058 5,831 19,291 1,439
2000 436,985 436,985 225,858 91,703 34,347 34,906 20,385 7,347 20,724 1,715
Federal
1980 80,679 172,268 41,421 40,522 27,948 21,869 10,441 18,416 7,975 3,675
1985 106,061 169,912 44,664 39,227 31,018 24,207 15,245 6,240 5,689 3,622
1990 151,990 201,756 66,671 48,378 31,687 23,926 18,267 5,277 5,421 2,129
1993 225,768 268,632 101,200 63,479 41,374 31,089 17,030 5,677 6,958 1,825
1994 250,066 289,891 108,609 73,494 41,857 32,270 16,968 5,635 8,836 2,222
1995 262,899 296,460 114,359 76,594 41,494 33,142 17,069 5,217 6,779 1,805
1996 268,097 294,110 114,009 76,804 40,770 32,958 16,919 4,432 6,924 1,293
1997 274,153 292,947 115,176 76,773 37,799 32,937 17,641 4,056 7,130 1,434
1998 280,138 294,516 116,604 76,687 34,869 31,939 17,857 4,390 10,848 1,322
1999 291,022 300,267 123,476 76,726 33,618 29,848 17,830 4,929 12,490 1,351
2000 306,520 306,520 131,468 72,516 32,182 29,261 19,043 6,219 14,201 1,630
State and local
1980 24,633 52,598 28,185 20,810 976 611 173 1,843
1985 38,230 61,246 34,540 21,067 1,648 727 130 3,084 50
1990 61,065 81,059 48,579 23,641 1,639 835 354 5,846 165
1993 88,683 105,520 68,955 25,524 1,863 1,583 911 669 5,931 84
1994 102,421 118,733 78,544 26,573 2,052 1,872 1,047 758 7,797 89
1995 108,210 122,024 82,563 26,697 2,064 2,622 1,077 915 5,996 91
1996 107,213 117,615 81,190 24,622 2,106 2,698 1,048 706 5,166 80
1997 110,312 117,874 83,639 22,690 2,109 2,624 1,096 190 5,457 68
1998 114,549 120,428 86,945 19,582 2,037 2,742 1,195 752 7,091 83
1999 117,383 121,112 90,143 19,850 2,100 (NA) 1,228 902 6,801 88
2000 130,465 130,465 94,390 19,187 2,165 5,645 1,342 1,128 6,523 85
–Represents or rounds to zero. NA Not available.
SOURCE: "No. 515. Government Expenditures for Income-Tested Benefits by Type of Benefit: 1980–2000," in "Social Insurance and Human Services," Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2002, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2002 [Online] http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/02statab/socinsur.pdf [accessed January 7, 2004]

Bureau, by 2000 the cost of medical benefits had risen 69 percent since 1980, while the cost of cash aid programs increased by a third. In 1980 medical and cash aid programs accounted for 58 percent of public aid spending; in 2000 these programs absorbed 72 percent of public aid budgets. Table 1.1 breaks down all social welfare spending by specific categories and by state and federal spending.

The portion of the GDP spent on social welfare increased only moderately between 1975 and 2000. In 2000 public aid accounted for about 4 percent of the nation's GDP, an increase of approximately one percentage point from expenditures in the late 1970s and 1980s and one-half point since 1995. However, public health and medical costs nearly doubled in the twenty years from 1975 to 1995, from 3.2 percent of the GDP in 1975 to 6.1 percent of the GDP by the mid-1990s. (See Table 1.2.) This increase reflects, among many factors, the growing number of older Americans, who have greater need of medical services, as well as the increasing cost of medical care in general.

A rapid increase occurred in public spending on health and medical care between 1990 and 2000. (See Table 1.3.) In 1990 the government spent $282.5 billion on health care. Ten years later, government spending on health and medical care had more than doubled, to nearly $587.2 billion. Medicare and public assistance payments (primarily Medicaid) accounted for almost three-quarters of that sum. In 1990 the government paid about $110.2

TABLE 1.2
Social welfare expenditures under public programs as percent of gross domestic product and total government outlays, 1980 to 1995 [493 represents $493,000,000,000]

Total expenditures Federal State and local government
Percent of— Percent of— Percent of—
Year Total (bil. dol.) Percent change1 Total GDP2 Total govt. outlays Total (bil. dol.) Percent change1 Total GDP2 Total federal outlays Total (bil. dol.) Percent change1 Total GDP2 Total state outlays
1980 493 14.7 18.6 57.2 303 15.2 11.4 54.4 190 13.8 7.2 62.9
1985 732 8.0 18.4 54.4 451 7.1 11.3 48.7 281 9.3 7.1 68.8
1990 1,049 9.6 18.5 58.2 617 9.1 10.9 51.4 432 10.3 7.6 74.0
1992 1,267 9.2 20.6 63.7 750 10.8 12.2 57.4 517 7.0 8.4 77.6
1993 1,367 7.8 21.1 66.6 805 7.2 12.4 60.0 561 8.5 8.7 80.7
1994 1,436 5.1 21.0 64.5 853 6.1 12.5 57.4 583 3.7 8.5 80.4
1995 1,505 4.8 20.9 67.5 888 4.1 12.4 60.2 617 5.8 8.6 83.6
1Percent change from immediate prior year.
2Gross domestic product.
SOURCE: "Social Welfare Expenditures Under Public Programs as Percent of GDP and Total Government Outlays: 1980 to 1995," in Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2000

billion for Medicare; in 2000 it spent $224.4 billion. Similarly, spending on public assistance medical payments (Medicaid) in 1990 reached $78.7 billion, but by 2000 Medicaid accounted for over $208.5 billion. These are huge changes involving enormous sums of money over a relatively short time. This situation helps to explain some of the problems governments face in trying to control their budgets and why health care has become a major national issue.

Welfare Payments

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, in 2000 the two major categories of public cash benefit payments paid out about $50 billion. Family assistance payments (primarily AFDC/TANF, not including Medicaid) totaled $18.3 billion, while $31.7 billion was paid out for SSI. Spending for SSI increased by 90 percent between 1990 and 2000. Much of this growth reflects the increase in the number of retired Americans, many of whom need Supplemental Security Income in order to live. By contrast, expenditures for family assistance declined by 4.7 percent during the same period. (See Table 1.4.)

Table 1.5 uses fiscal year 2000 dollars to compare how federal funds have been divided among various types of income-tested benefits from 1968 through 2000. (See Table 1.5.)

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over 4 years ago

One America- It is not hard at all to understand if you are corrupted by an entitlement mentality. as you appear to be.



I really find it perverted that when you are allowed to keep the money that you earned it is called corporate welfare and yet when it is taken from you by force or threat of force to be given to others (that's how the government does it) it is a "good thing."



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over 4 years ago

it is very hard to understand what the people who are on government assistance are going through and there are truely some that need it and those that are just riding the system. This is just one side of welfare though, what about the corporate welfare? What do you think is going on with the corporations that are allowed all these millions of dollars of tax breaks and so on. What do you think about this kind of welfare?

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over 3 years ago

before we give help to a pregent un wed woman we should demand she give the name of the man then we could make him suport her and hen baby or go to jail

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almost 6 years ago

this is very bad to me because they are spending so much money on people who are just using there children for the money (well some of them)and I think that the parents should get jobs and try to help them selves instead of just using the federal government !

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over 5 years ago

Well it isn't good for me either since we make $30 a month to much for any kind of aid. When we asked for some we were told it was our fault for having children my wife and I work very hard and both of us served our country and we get nothing due to the people who ride the system.

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