Thursday, April 02, 2009

Per capita federal welfare expenditures by state

Commenter Jesuswarehouse helpfully dug up several links, including federal expenditures by state on a host of things. Sifting through them, I've figured total per capita federal welfare spending--defined here as childhood nutrition programs, food stamp programs, WIC benefits, and TANF benefits--by state. Such a table does not appear to be floating around anywhere else on the web. For that reason, it is presented here. The latest year all necessary figures appear to be available from is 2005. Consequently, all data are from that year:

StatePer capita $
1. District of Columbia291.55

2. New York

3. California173.46
4. New Mexico168.13
5. Alaska165.27
6. Vermont146.16
7. Louisiana139.98
8. Michigan135.89
9. Oklahoma133.89
10. Rhode Island132.39
11. Pennsylvania127.59
12. Mississippi127.57
13. Georgia121.78
14. West Virginia119.89
15. Kentucky119.51
16. Oregon119.30
17. Hawaii118.86
18. Connecticut117.29
19. New Jersey117.04
20. Washington115.73
21. Maine113.70
22. Arizona113.44
23. North Dakota111.08
24. Massachusetts108.79
25. Wisconsin108.05
26. Wyoming107.58
27. South Dakota106.80
28. North Carolina106.61
29. Texas105.87
30. Kansas104.59
31. Illinois102.06
32. Iowa101.68
33. Delaware100.67
34. Minnesota100.61
35. Arkansas97.95
36. Montana97.89
37. Missouri95.81
38. Nebraska95.42
39. Alabama95.08
40. Utah93.25
41. Tennessee92.96
42. Ohio91.13
43. South Carolina89.69
44. Idaho84.76
45. Maryland77.92
46. Indiana77.85
47. Colorado68.06
48. Nevada65.23
49. Virginia59.61
50. Florida59.19
51. New Hampshire53.42

Vermont's high take stands out, as the state generally fares well on quality-of-life measures. I would have expected it to show similarity to New Hampshire. However, per capita expenditures only weakly correlate* with the usual suspects--with the poverty rate at .33 (p=.02), with the non-Asian minority (NAM) percentage of the population at .22 (p=.13), and inversely with estimated average IQ at .22 (p=.13). Blue states receive a little more than red states do, but a state's political persuasion doesn't reveal much--federal welfare expenditures correlate inversely with Bush's '04 share of the vote at .24 (p=.09).

Not surprisingly, there are factors other than 'need' at work in determining how much the federal government doles out to its tributaries.

A visualization of the table is available here. Data are here.

* All correlations exclude the District of Columbia.


Stopped Clock said...

I wish I could pull something from my own experience to explain what's up with Vermont and New Hampshire, but it's as much a mystery to me as to you. Vermont is not a particularly poor state, so it can't be poverty in and of itself that's diverting federal assistance there. I doubt that the ruralness of the state is the reason either, because big Western states don't seem to be that high on the list. Whatever factor it is is probably some sort of rfederally funded program unique to Vermont.

Audacious Epigone said...


I suspect you're right. Vermont is a little older and a little more rural than New Hampshire is, but it's closer to NH than it is to Maine in its social characteristics, isn't it? And Maine only compares modestly to them because all three are in New England.

Anonymous said...

How does it correlate with number of American Indians (number of members of Federally-recognized Indian Tribes and Bands) per state? Also, correlation with percentage of land area of the state owned by Federal government?

Audacious Epigone said...


Do you have a good source on recognized tribal membership by state?

I'll correlate federally owned land percentage with per capita federal welfare dollars, but I doubt it'll be statistically significant because there is so much variation by state (Nevada at over 80% versus some New England states at less than 1%).

Audacious Epigone said...

The two do not correlate at all.

Anonymous said...

"...federal welfare expenditures correlate inversely with Bush's '04 share of the vote at .24 (p=.09)."

Shocking in it's overall weight.

Is there a graph?

Is the trend always .24 in each election?