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  • The 2010 Index of Dependence on Government

    The Heritage Foundation’s 2010 Index of Dependence on Government, published today, showcases the disturbing trend of Americans becoming more dependent on their government – via their fellow non-dependent tax paying Americans – than ever before.

    • The surge in the Index of 13.6% over last year takes the Index to an all time high.
    • Government support for dependent persons has grown from $7,293 per person in 1962, to $31,950 per person in 2009, both amounts expressed in 2005 dollars.
    • Many Americans pay no federal income tax for the dependency related programs they use. 132.5 million Americans do not pay income taxes and do not have a head of household paying income taxes in their household. This is up from just 34.8 million in 1984.
    • And three entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid eat up 41% of all non-interest federal program spending. Unchecked, this will grow to 62% over the next decade as 10,000 baby boomers retire every day.

    The problem caused by unsustainable promises of entitlement benefits to millions of Americans will not go away of its own accord. In fact, the IMF predicts that U.S. public-sector debt (federal plus state) will equal 100 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2015 unless the annual deficits are immediately cut by an amount equal to 12 percent of GDP. 100 percent of the dollar value of everything produced in the whole country will be owed! It is no wonder that so many Americans feel the need to turn this ship around.

    The images coming out of France and other parts of Europe today and over the past few weeks are a harbinger of what the U.S. will eventually face when entitlement reform is eventually forced on us by the end of the long debt train line that America has been riding for so long. An army of dependents will be angry. The French workers who are being asked to retire at 62 instead of 60 years old are angry now. Who knows how millions of Americans will react if the federal government is forced to reduce the aid currently flowing from dependency creating programs.

    It is better to cut spending by 12 percent of GDP per year today than to suffer the financial and political repercussions that will inevitably stem from delay.

    Click here to read the 2010 Index of Dependence on Government.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to The 2010 Index of Dependence on Government

    1. John Corle..Plymouth says:

      Its bushs fault..but sorry,that dogwon;t hunt no more..Obama has had a

      total 4 full years of Democratie congress and the house..This Obama has run America in the ground..Its time to think about impeahment..lets get together and say –MR OBAMA..YOURE FIRED !!!!!!

    2. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      Definition of an entitlement, Money or service you get and expect to get without making any contribution toward that service. Therefore Social security and Medicare are not entitlements for those who have worked for many years and paid into these programs with the promise that we would draw from these after we reached certain age or became disabled. Programs for those who pay nothing, ie: Medicaid should not be lumped with those above, and anyone who did not pay should be getting welfare or medicaid, not from a fund we paid into.

    3. Drew Page, IL says:

      "The problem caused by unsustainable promises of entitlement benefits promised to millions of Americans will not go away of its own accord". How many times HF has made this statement?

      Social Security seems to be the primary "entitlement" benefit Heritage continues to bemoan. Yet, I can't remember a single instance of where Heritage has commented on where Social Security would be today had the funds paid into the system been kept in the so-called "lock box" and used only for the payment od S.S. benefits to eligible people. Can Heritage unleash its powerful research engine to provide us with a report of how many times Social Security funds were appropriated for other uses? How much was taken each time? What those funds robbed from the "lock box" were used for? And who authorized such depredations on the Social Security funds?

      I am sick to death of hearing about how Social Security is going broke and nothing about the thieves who stole those funds and used them for other purposes. What difference would it make if we doubled our funding of Social Security, so long as a bunch of politicians can still get their sticky fingers on it and use those funds for whatever else they want? And these thefts from the Social Security "lock box" (what a joke) are never reported to the people, not how much, when, for what purpose or by whom. Maybe, just maybe, if we stopped the theft of Social Security funds there would be enough to meet the promised benefit payouts.

    4. Mat Grell says:


      Great research and summary. Thanks for pulling all this together. It is difficult to get a sense of the massiveness of the Wefare State since the accounting numbers are scattered over different federal agencies, such as U.S. Social Security Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture , as well as in combination with State agencies.

      See my Presidential Report Card from Nixon to Obama.

    5. Peg Fisk Port Cheste says:

      I agree with Drew Page's comment above. The government took quite a bit from my paycheck for the 30 years I taught high school. With the money left over, I mortgaged a house, sent my kids to college, bought cars, and worked during the summer months. Now, at almost 70, I am retired and am supposed to feel greedy because I get the money I paid into Social Security? What about those folks who get welfare, don't work, don't pay taxes, medical, whatever? What happened to the notion of Independence?

      I applaud you for whacking up all of these numbers–but Mr. Page is right: What happened to all the Social Security money that was borrowed for other expenditures? Who took it? For What? And can s/he go to jail? Just a thought.

    6. Sportracer NC says:

      The Treasury Department has for decades borrowed money from the Social Security trust fund to finance government operations. If it is no longer able to do so, it could be forced to borrow an additional $700 billion over the next decade from China, Japan and other investors. And at some point, perhaps as early as 2017, according to the CBO, the Treasury would have to start repaying the billions it has borrowed from the trust fund over the past 25 years, driving the nation further into debt or forcing Congress to raise taxes.

    7. Tom Georgia says:

      If you decided to place blame and to point fingers for the unsustainable mess that we have, you would find yourself pointing out literally thousands of people who have lived in this nation during the twentieth century and now in the first decade of the twenty first century and contributed to the mess in some way.

      To point out all of them would require that you spend a lot of time going from cemetary to cemetary all across the nation. You would also spend a lot of time wandering around and pointing at the ground in Arlington National Cemetary.

      We, the people, must begin to send solutions to Washington if there is to be any hope for real and workable solutions for any of our very real national problems to come from Washington. More of what we have already gotten is what we should expect to get from the culture of corruption and incompetence that is and for a long time has been the prevailing culture in official Washington.

      A side question: Has the time come for Congress–all members, both Houses–to take a short field trip together over to Arlington and begin the process of selecting the most appropriate burial site for Uncle Sam?

    8. TJS, FL says:

      I just finished reading the report. I do not understand what the "index" number represents specifically. I suggest a simple definition at the top of the report. I do get that the average cost per dependent person is about $32,000. And that 64 million are now dependent. Staggering. You ought to graph that cost and quantity over time too.

      The only solution is to recognize the cancerous, vote-buying behavior of Congress, and put them on a strict budget, prohibiting borrowing, and limiting tax rates. That will take a constitutional amendment. I suggest limit the federal government to 15% of GDP, no borrowing, max income tax rate of 25%, no corporate taxes, and Congerss must repay $250 billion of the debt per year minimum until it is gone. No stealing from trust funds. I would also prohibit subisidies for housing, farming, and education. I would means test all retirement programs.

      Health care costs can only be controlled by cutting costs – no mandates, national market for policy shopping, tort reform, incentives for good health, group rates through pools, prohibit low-ball payments by government and insurance companies, require single posted prices for all services and goods, require HSA's for everyone where they pay the first $2,000 each year, and stop the massive fraud in Medicare and Medicaid.

    9. Jim from New Jersey says:

      What if “we the people” began to refuse government services. What if we began a movement of personal responsibility? What if we didn’t take on burdensome personal debt? Or those wacky loans that got us here in the first place? What if we didn’t fall for all the the government trickery that made it look like our Senators and our Representatives were giving us their money? Ladies and gentlemen… wake up! The money they are throwing around on silly nonsense is OUR money! There is no difference between Senator Lautenberg(D-NJ) coming over my house and putting a gun to my head and saying “give me your money!” and him voting for a tax increase from Washington, DC… actually there is a difference, I would rather him come to my house and take my money… that way I could tell him to his face that he was a thief. I know how to spend my money better than anyone I know… the problem is, our elected officials think they know how to spend our money better than we do. We better start paying attention before we (because we are the government) run out of money!

    10. KMB, Oregon says:

      TJS, FL, I vote for you! I also agree with Jeanne, Drew, and Peg that people who have put into Social Security are not at all the same as people who get benefits without having contributed. The government has not been a good steward of this program, either. People weren't given a choice as to whether or not they wanted to contribute to Social Security. I personally am not counting on Social Security at all, and plan to work for a very long time, if I am able.

      I appreciate the civility of the discussion

    11. Pingback: How Sad-Americans More Dependent Than Ever On Government | The Lonely Conservative

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