Poverty and Income Security

Numerous federal programs and policies aim to reduce poverty, alleviate some of poverty's adverse consequences, enhance the security of people’s incomes, and affect the distribution of income and economic well-being. CBO provides cost estimates for legislative proposals related to those programs and policies. The agency also conducts in-depth analyses of the budgetary and other effects of those programs and policies and of options for changing them. (A separate page on Social Security provides additional information on CBO’s work in that area.)

  • Report November 20, 2014

    CBO periodically issues a compendium of options—this installment presents 79—to inform lawmakers about the budgetary effects of ways to reduce the deficit. The report has both interactive and printable formats.

  • Report November 12, 2014

    In 2011, households in the top, middle, and bottom quintiles received 52, 14, and 5 percent of the nation's before-tax income, respectively; the shares of federal taxes paid by those households were 69, 9, and 1 percent.

  • Report February 18, 2014

    Raising the minimum wage would increase family income for many low-wage workers, moving some of them out of poverty. But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated and the income of those workers would fall substantially.

  • Report December 17, 2013

    Spending on the Social Security program will exceed its dedicated tax revenues, on average, by about 12 percent over the next decade, CBO projects. The gap will grow larger in the 2020s and will exceed 30 percent of revenues by 2030.

  • Report November 7, 2013

    CBO analyzes the distribution of most federal spending—including transfers such as Social Security benefits—and almost all federal revenues among U.S. households in 2006. Results are provided by type of household and by income group.

  • Report February 11, 2013

    During the past 40 years, federal spending for major means-tested programs and tax credits for low-income households more than tripled as a share of gross domestic product. In 2012, such spending totaled $588 billion.

  • Report January 24, 2013

    The number and cost of refundable tax credits have grown considerably since 1975. Federal costs (in 2013 dollars) peaked at $238 billion in 2008, but costs will fall to $149 billion in 2013 before reaching $213 billion in 2021.

  • Report November 28, 2012

    Between 2007 and 2010, unemployment benefits expanded nearly five-fold owing to high unemployment due to the weak economy, and decisions by policymakers to increase the number of weeks for which unemployed workers could receive benefits.

  • Report November 15, 2012

    Effective marginal tax rates among low- and moderate-income workers are about 30 percent, on average, with about one-third of that rate stemming from the federal income tax, more than a third from federal payroll taxes, and the remainder from state income taxes and the phaseout of SNAP benefits.

  • Report April 19, 2012

    One in seven U.S. residents received benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2011, at a total cost of $78 billion. Spending on SNAP benefits more than doubled between 2007 and 2011.