Here’s the good news: the poverty rate went down considerably over the twentieth century. Here’s the not-so-good news: researchers don’t know why.
There’s no denying that the government has made substantial efforts to slash the poverty rate with a variety of programs beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the years following the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over the next few decades, subsequent administrations enacted a series of new programs, including food stamps, designed to give the most impoverished Americans a leg up and help them onto the economic ladder.
At the same time, however, the market economy was growing. Individual citizens and companies were figuring out ways of producing goods we fewer inputs, improving the standard of living for all. The average American worker saw their annual income double over the last seventy years, owing to improvements in productivity, mainly achieved in the private sector.
Whether the government was entirely responsible for the falls we’ve seen in the poverty rate is, therefore, difficult to determine. While some of the reduction is probably due to the actions of the state, much of it also has to do with the economic miracle that we’ve seen over the last fifty years. Output has gone up enormously, and practically everyone is now sharing in the benefits.
Are you interested in poverty in the US, and why it is going down steadily over time? If so, browse the following charts on this infographic. It plots the policies of the government and then shows estimates for the effect of welfare programs on poverty levels.
Make sure you check out this infographic