Is America becoming a nation of takers?

 

 
MYTH
FACT
1
Few nonseniors receive government benefits.
Although almost all families with seniors use government benefits, over a third of families without any seniors were on at least one government benefit program — even before the Great Recession.
Source: Nicholas Eberstadt, A Nation of Takers: America's Entitlement Epidemic (Templeton Press, 2012), 33.
2
Because of means testing, welfare transfers help only the truly needy.
In 2010, over 34 percent of American households received means-tested benefits — households which included nearly half of America's children. Yet the poverty rate was only 15.1 percent.
Source: Eberstadt, 128; Census data.
3
The number of families receiving government benefits has been largely stable over time.
In 1983, fewer than 30 percent of households received one or more government benefits. By 2011, this number had skyrocketed to 49 percent.
Source: Eberstadt, 31-32.
4
Democrats are the party of entitlements. Republicans have tried to pare down spending.
The growth in entitlement spending is a bipartisan phenomenon. In fact, for the last half-century, entitlement spending has grown faster under Republican presidents than under Democratic presidents.
Source: Eberstadt, 23.
5
Transfers are just a small part of what the government does.
From 1940 to 1960, entitlement transfers accounted for under a third of federal spending. Today over two-thirds of federal spending goes to entitlements. In 2010 alone, governments at all levels oversaw a transfer of $2.2 trillion — three times as much as all military and defense spending that same year.
Source: Eberstadt, 10.
 


A Nation of Takers: America's Entitlement Epidemic
by Nicholas Eberstadt, available October 15. Preorder at Amazon.com or BN.com.

Media Contact: Veronique Rodman, vrodman@aei.org, 202.862.4871

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About the Author

 

Nicholas
Eberstadt
  • Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist and a demographer by training, is also a senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research, a member of the visiting committee at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Global Leadership Council at the World Economic Forum. He researches and writes extensively on economic development, foreign aid, global health, demographics, and poverty. He is the author of numerous monographs and articles on North and South Korea, East Asia, and countries of the former Soviet Union. His books range from The End of North Korea (AEI Press, 1999) to The Poverty of the Poverty Rate (AEI Press, 2008).

     

  • Phone: 202.862.5825
    Email: eberstadt@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alex Coblin
    Phone: 202.419.5215
    Email: alex.coblin@aei.org

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