Public assistance and family characteristics

July 05, 2000

Families receiving public assistance differ from other families in several characteristics as well as in the way they allocate their spending.

Characteristics of families by receipt of public assistance, 1998
[Chart data—TXT]

Compared with other families, the average family receiving public assistance is slightly larger and has more people under age 18. Both assisted and nonassisted families have the same number of persons aged 65 and older.

Assisted families have lower average numbers of earners, own a lower number of vehicles, and are only half as likely to be homeowners. For all three of these characteristics, the numbers decrease as the number of assistance programs increases.

These data are a product of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. The public assistance programs included in the analysis were supplementary security income, welfare, medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies, and public housing. Find more information in "Spending patterns of public-assisted families," by Lucilla Tan, Monthly Labor Review, May 2000.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Public assistance and family characteristics on the Internet at (visited September 30, 2016).


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