The Geography of Government Aid

Say what you want about the NY Times, but they are the lords of interactive info-graphics.  Note you can play with the date as well as, on the left, which component of benefits you want to view.


  1. NL_:

    I saw this last week, I think. Very cool, but it would've been even better if they factored in the salaries of government employees. They already count veteran's benefits, so it's not supposed to be a strictly welfare chart.

    Bonus points for somebody who can do the same chart, plus government salaries, plus payments to government contractors and all analogous state and local payments.

  2. NL_:

    If you look at the DC metro area, it's amazing how little it receives in these payments. It comes off far better than the nearby East Coast cities. Though some of the Southern also do fairly well, none do as well across all the indicators as DC metro (none seem to require as little assistance as DC).

    But if you were to include payments to government contractors and government employees, it'd be hugely dependent on government even though it has strikingly little need for income assistance or unemployment payments.

  3. Doug:

    A friend of mine told me last night about this graph that he had seen, and it indicated that despite all of the South being a republican stronghold, instead it indicates that they also like to suck off the government teat. Now that I see the graph, I think instead it is more an indication of illegal immigrant strongholds. Namely, "the South," where the illegals are primarily concentrated. 20+ million poor people have to live somewhere. Another point is that this graph uses "average household income." If you have a very wealthy area, such as Hollywood, the Bay Area (Silicon Valley), or Manhattan, the average income is quite high and the number of poor people is quite low, so the calculation yields a much lower number. Agriculturally-rich areas should show up as having a higher average because of the double-whammy of a lot of poor field workers and a lot of farmers drawing farm subsidies. The more north you get, with less farming land and fewer farm workers, the lower the average. Finally, just because you see a red area does not mean that you have a large NUMBER of people there drawing government money. It just means the average number of people in that county are drawing payments. It gives no indication of population DENSITY.

  4. Mesa Econoguy:

    And the NYT are masters of oversimplification as well.

    This is a fancy cookie-cutter drill-down on federal government intervention, begun under Jorge Boosh, but expanded exponentially by El Jefe Bama.

    Veronique de Rugy had a much better examination of this non-interesting phenomenon:

  5. T J Sawyer:

    Doesn't seem to be a useful metric to me for SS for example. Sumter county FL, home of The Villages is remarkably high as I would expect. Nothing else there except respending of the SS dollars. You'd expect that Southern California would have some SS dollars coming in but maybe not in relation to all other dollars.

    By the way, this chart is just about inaccessible from an iPad.

  6. Chad:

    Very misleading, it states as a "percent of income." The income is less in the south so the percent is higher, however if you look at strictly at per capita basis (not percent income per capital) the infographic would tell a different story. Slipping in the percent of income is a nice way shade the graphic to someones liking.

  7. the other coyote:

    Chad hit the nail on the head. In really poor areas, people might have an income of only $10k per year. If they get $3k in gvt assistance, 30% of their income is from the government.

    This chart is most useful in comparing the same counties over four decades. I was not surprised to see the darkest spots over the poorest counties. I was surprised to see how much the transfer payments have increased to those exact same poor counties over the years. In 1969, the Pine Ridge reservation and Mississippi's river counties and Eastern Kentucky were just as poor, and I believe they were more so, than they are today - but entitlement spending didn't make up as big of a percentage of those folks' income as it does today.