Dependence on government programs has more than doubled since 1969

The amount of support that Americans receive from government programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security has more than doubled between the years 1969 – 2009, according to an article in the New York Times.

The article examines America’s reliance on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment, Veteran’s Benefits, and Income Support.  Key findings:

  • Social Security accounted for 5.6% of personal income in 2009, up from 3.4% in 1969.
  • Medicare accounted for .9% of personal income in 1969, in 2009 it was up to 4.1%.
  • Medicaid spending was at .6% of personal income in 1969, and at 3.1% in 2009.
  • Unemployment benefits accounted for .3% of personal income in 1969, and in 2009, accounted for 1.1%.

The New York Times website has an interactive map showing the breakdown of government spending for each of these programs by county. The article found wide variation among geographical location, with some counties spending significantly below the national average, while others were significantly higher in different areas.

(Sources: The New York Times,, February 11, 2012; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, February 15, 2012)