A Bipartisan Nation of Beneficiaries

January 7, 2013

As the nation continues to debate the merits of federal entitlement spending, a new national survey finds surprising facts about the distribution of this spending. Nearly 55 percent of Americans have received government benefits from one of the six best-known entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Unemployment Insurance), say Rich Morin, Paul Taylor and Eileen Patten of the Pew Research Center.

Even more interesting is the breakdown of people that have received benefits. According to a telephone survey that took a nationally representative sample of 2,511 adults:

  • Sixty percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans have benefitted from a major entitlement program at some point in their lives.
  • Women are more likely than men to have received an entitlement benefit by 12 percent.
  • Blacks are more likely than whites to have received federal help from these programs by 8 percent.
  • Moreover, 16 percent of people that have not received benefits say that a member in their household has gotten help.

The most utilized programs are unemployment benefits and Social Security. Nearly 27 percent of adults have received unemployment assistance, while about 26 percent have received Social Security.

It should be noted that age is also a large factor in whether someone has received some sort of financial assistance. This is not surprising considering that over the course of a lifetime there are more opportunities to receive benefits and once older people reach retirement age they qualify for Social Security and Medicaid.

  • Ninety-seven percent of adults age 65 and older have received an entitlement benefit over the course of their lives.
  • Only 33 percent of those under the age of 30 have received some sort of benefit.
  • Eighty-eight percent of older adults have received Social Security and 78 percent have received Medicare benefits.

Source: Rich Morin, Paul Taylor and Eileen Patten, "A Bipartisan Nation of Beneficiaries," Pew Research Center, December 18, 2012.

 

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