The Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Dependence on Government

For the past 10 years, The Heritage Foundation has compiled data to create an Index of Dependence on Government. It is used to measure exactly what it title implies: the percentage of Americans who depend on the government just to survive.

While this number has been steadily increasing since 1962, the year for which measurement data was first available, it has increased exponentially in recent years. In fact, the index increased by 8.1% in 2010 alone. The aspects of government dependency which grew the most were housing (13%), healthcare and welfare (13.1%) and retirement (3.1%).

Since 2001, when Heritage first created the document, the index has grown by 60.7%. Since 1962, the score has grown by 15 times its original amount. Some of the key takeaways, as compiled by The Foundry and our own reading, are astounding:

  • 21.8% of Americans (1 in 5) rely on the federal government for housing, healthcare, food stamps, college tuition and / or retirement assistance. That’s the highest reliance ever in our history. 67.3 million Americans rely on the federal government to subsidize their life.
  • Most of this assistance goes toward paying for their housing, health and welfare, and retirement
  • The average individual dependent on the government receives benefits valued at $32,748, which is more than the nation’s average disposable personal income of $32,446.
  • 70% of the government’s budget goes towards these kinds of assistance programs.
  • 77 million Americans (the baby boomers) are about to retire, which will explode the amount of money “needed” to subsidize their lives.
  • Social Security and Medicare alone are set to cost $45.9 trillion in unfunded obligations over the next 75 years.
  • Most of the baby boomers retiring are middle to upper-income Americans who don’t need the assistance, but because the program is based on age and not need, they will receive the same benefits as lower-income retirees who actually need the help.

All of this dependence, and 49.5% of the U.S. population pay no federal income taxes, which is up from 34.1% in 2000, and 23.7% in 1962 (just 12% of Americans paid no federal income taxes in 1970).

The implication of this index is clear: the American people need to stop relying on government for their day-to-day lives and become self reliant; and government needs to stop subsidizing more and more just to win votes, when what’s really happening is the destruction of our country.

Please Share Your Thoughts
  • geoff roberson

    What the Heritage Foundation fails to mention is that they included the prison population in with these statistics. We jail more, we have to take care of more.