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The Expanding Social Safety Net

Casey B. Mulligan

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

December 2011

NBER Working Paper No. w17654

Inflation-adjusted spending on means-tested subsidies have increased sharply since 2007, and most of this growth was due to changes in eligibility rules, and increases in subsidies per eligible person, rather than increases in the number of people who would have been eligible under pre-recession subsidy rules. The non-elderly parts of the safety net have increased from about $10,000 per year of non- or under-employment by non-elderly household heads and spouses in 2007 to almost $15,000 per year in 2010, adjusted for inflation. From 2007 to 2010, inflation-adjusted safety net spending increased $35,000 for every added year of non-employment or under-employment. As a result, the average private returns to employment are substantially less than they were in 2007.

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Date posted: December 12, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Mulligan, Casey B., The Expanding Social Safety Net (December 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17654. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1971477

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Casey B. Mulligan (Contact Author)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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University of Chicago ( email )
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Chicago, IL 60637
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