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 September 25, 2015

    Since 1990, real spending for child nutrition programs more than doubled—to $20 billion in 2014. CBO expects that increases in food prices and demographic changes will cause spending to rise further in the future.

  • Report September 9, 2015

    CBO describes federal housing assistance to low-income households and how it has changed since 2000, provides information about the households that receive assistance, and assesses options for altering that assistance.

  • Report March 16, 2015

    CBO examines several options that would reduce federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the effects they would have on households with different amounts of income.

  • Report January 21, 2015

    This report examines spending on TANF, how TANF compares to other low-income support programs, and the effects of TANF on employment. CBO also analyzes policy options that would change the program’s funding and requirements for states.

  • Report December 18, 2014

    This report presents additional information about the long-term projections CBO made in July 2014 for Social Security’s revenues, outlays, and the distribution of benefits and taxes.

  • 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 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.