FMC Home Link PBS Program LinkFMC Book LinkViewer's Voices LinkInteractivity LinkTeacher's Guide
  Book Intro LinkBook Authors LinkBook Download LinkCredits Link
FMC Logo 1
  < Back to Contents
  Chapter Eleven:

  Government Spending
  Government Employees
  Federal Entitlements
  Federal Judiciary
  Military Personnel
  Blacks in the Military
  Women in the Military
  War Deaths
  Patriotic Attitudes



FMC Logo 2  


Federal Entitlements

chart link spacer



Government payments to, or on behalf of, individual citizens increased during the second half of the century.
In 1900, the only people receiving direct payments from Washington were war veterans and their dependents. In any given year at the end of the century, the majority of American families received direct benefits from the U.S. Treasury under one or more entitlement programs. 

Entitlements are automatic government payments to, or on behalf of, individuals or organizations that fall into some category defined by law, such as all college students or all homeowners in disaster-stricken counties. The largest entitlement is Social Security—more precisely, Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance— the system of federal pensions for retired workers and their dependents, disabled workers and their dependents, and survivors of deceased workers. The next largest is Medicare, which pays some, but not all, of the medical and hospital expenses of people over age sixty-five, followed by Medicaid, a system of health insurance for low-income and needy people. The chart shows only the federal contribution to Medicaid; the cost of this expensive and rapidly growing program is shared by the states. 

The other programs shown on the chart are less costly. Veterans’ benefits actually declined after 1975. Direct subsidies to the poor—welfare grants and food stamps— increased, but their combined cost remained far less than the cost of Medicaid. 

The chart shows only the largest and most conspicuous of the federal entitlements. It does not include dozens of others, including the military and civil service retirement systems, unemployment insurance, income programs for the blind and disabled, school breakfasts and lunches, housing subsidies, child care support, nutrition for the elderly, vocational training, disaster relief, flood insurance, farm subsidies, and various special benefits for handicapped persons, American Indians, pregnant women, displaced defense workers, tobacco farmers, and graduate students.

Chapter 11 chart 3

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

SA 1959, tables 354 and 372; SA 1979, table 522; and SA 1997, tables 518, 580, and 582. See also WA 1998, pages 154 and 160.


<<Previous      Next>>  


PBS Program | Trends of the Century | Viewer's Voices | Interactivity | Teacher's Guide