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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Aid Programs Helped U.S. Survive the Great Recession

The country’s welfare programs scored high marks during the Great Recession, according to a new report by Robert A. Moffitt, the Krieger-Eisenhower professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

The report, published this month in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, shows the country’s “social safety net” expanded to catch many Americans during the economic downturn, which lasted roughly from 2008 through 2009.

In “The Great Recession and the Social Safety Net,” Moffitt found aggregate safety net spending rose $500 billion from 2007 to 2010. Meanwhile, caseloads rose too, from 276 million to 310 million.

Carrying the bulk of this load, he said, were the Earned Income Tax Credit, Unemployment Insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Together, the three programs accounted for about a third of the spending increase.

Other programs that expanded to meet the demand included Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security retirement and disability benefits.

“Our results show that there was a major response from the safety net to the Great Recession,” Moffitt said. “The programs did their job and made a difference – there’s no question about it.”

Spending on SNAP – food stamps – more than doubled, Moffitt found, vaulting from $30 billion in 2007 to $65 billion in 2010. The program was not only helping more people, Moffitt said, but...

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