FiveThirtyEight: Most Welfare Dollars Don’t Go Directly to Poor People Anymore

The result has been a dramatic shift of resources away from cash assistance and toward spending on other programs. In 1998, nearly 60 percent of welfare spending was on cash benefits, categorized as “basic assistance.” By 2014, it was only about one-quarter of TANF spending. That shift has happened despite a burgeoning economics literature suggesting that direct cash transfers are in many cases the most efficient tool to fight poverty.