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earned-income tax credit

a federal program that supplements the wages of the working poor

food stamps

an in-kind transfer program that offers low-income households vouchers redeemable for food; benefit levels vary inversely with household income

income assistance programs

welfare programs that provide money and in-kind assistance to the poor; benefits do not depend on prior contributions

Lorenz curve

a curve showing the percentage of total income received by a given percentage of recipients whose incomes are arrayed from smallest to largest

means-tested program

a program in which, to be eligible, an individual's income and assets must not exceed specified levels

median income

the middle income when all incomes are ranked from smallest to largest

median wage the

middle wage when wages of all workers are ranked from lowest to highest


an in-kind transfer program that provides medical care for poor people; by far the most costly welfare program


social insurance program providing health insurance for short-term medical care to older Americans, regardless of income

social insurance

government programs designed to help make up for lost income of people who worked but are now retired, unemployed, or unable to work because of disability or work-related injury

Social Security

supplements retirement income to those with a record of contributing to the program during their working years; by far the largest government redistribution program

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

an income assistance program that provides cash transfers to the elderly poor and the disabled; a uniform federal payment is supplemented by transfers that vary across states

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

an income assistance program funded largely by the federal government but run by the states to provide cash transfer payments to poor families with dependent children

U.S. official poverty level

benchmark level of income computed by the federal government to track poverty over time; initially based on three times the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet

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