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Think being on welfare is a sweet deal? This chart should set you straight.

Think being on welfare is a sweet deal? This chart should set you straight.

There’s a really pernicious myth out there that the U.S. secretly has a super-generous welfare state. Just this summer, in fact, the Cato Institute was claiming that “welfare” provides some D.C. residents with the equivalent of a $50,820-a-year salary. That study got thoroughly decimated by other analysts, but the myth persists.

So if you somehow get yourself embroiled in a Facebook comment thread flamewar about this, or have to reply to a chain email your grandpa sent along these lines, send along the chart above. A new paper from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that people getting government assistance in the form of Medicaid, Section 8, food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), etc. spend a whole lot less on just about everything than those not getting assistance. Folks on those programs aren’t living high on the hog; they’re scraping by, with a little help from the government.

Click “Know More” to read the full BLS study. Hat-tip goes to Jordan Weissmann.

Dylan Matthews | December 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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