What’s the Financial Condition of Households Getting Government Benefits?


The median “wealth” or financial assets of U.S. households that participated in one or more means-tested government programs in 2017 was about 97% less than that of those who didn’t.

Despite less wealth and lower asset ownership, households that received government assistance surprisingly had only slightly lower unsecured debt, such as credit cards and medical bills, than those who didn’t and even lower secured debt like a mortgage.

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The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is the nation’s premier source of information on the characteristics of those who receive government assistance. The 2017 SIPP data show the disparities in levels of wealth and debt  – the value of assets owned minus the liabilities (debts).

The U.S. Census Bureau report and detailed tables on household wealth in 2017 show wide variations across demographic and socio-economic groups.

Continue reading to learn more about:

  • Net worth of program participants
  • What assets do households with program participants have?
  • How much debt do program participants have?

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