Map & Data Resources

Abandonment of poor: much worse than you thought

Map & Data Resources |

May 8, 2013 — As we document in three new interactive visualizations, the value of public assistance benefits (first called “Aid to Families with Dependent Children,” or “AFDC,” and subsequently renamed “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families,” or “TANF”) has fallen dramatically in every state between 1970 and 2011 for families of three, both in absolute dollars and as a percentage of the federal poverty guidelines (guidelines very similar to the poverty threshold in all states except in Alaska and Hawaii).

On this page, we present a map of the United States showing the relationship between federal poverty guidelines and the maximum monthly value of AFDC/TANF benefits in each state and the District of Columbia. When you use the slider at the top of the visualization to see change over time, the scope of the cutbacks becomes starkly apparent. In 1970, for example, the maximum benefit was greater than 50 percent of the poverty guidelines in 39 jurisdictions; in 2011, only one jurisdiction (New York) was still providing maximum benefits in excess of 50 percent of the poverty guidelines.

On page two, we map the decline in the real value (in 2013 dollar terms) of the maximum AFDC/TANF benefit for families of three.

On page three, we present a chart that allows more detailed exploration of change in each jurisdiction over time.

For more information on sources and methodology, please click here.

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