University of Wisconsin–Madison
Discussion Paper Icon

Recent Developments in Antipoverty Policies in the United States

I survey recent developments in antipoverty policy in the United States over the past decade and examine how the safety net and tax system affect poverty and its correlates using data from the 2000 to 2010 waves of the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement. Unlike the 1980s and 1990s, and until the health care overhaul in 2009, the first decade of the 21st century was relatively tepid in terms of major transfer policy reforms. However, real spending on most major social programs increased significantly, and in some cases doubled or tripled, in response to demographic shifts and the deep recession. In spite of the real growth in social insurance and means-tested transfer programs, the trends in after-tax and transfer poverty rates were little affected, and if anything, suggest that the safety net has lost some of its antipoverty bite in terms of alleviating hardship among those living in deep poverty.


Economic Support, Means-Tested Programs