Election campaigns and rolling news stories mean that debate and discussion are an integral part of modern-day life. While there have been ferocious debates over the role of policies and presidents in tackling poverty over the ages, the proportion of people living in poverty has decreased. The infographic below provides a fascinating insight into the steady decline of poverty in the U.S.
In 1959, 27.3% of the population was living in poverty, compared to 21.1% in 2014. Personal income also increased dramatically from $17,292 in 1970 to $30,176 in 2014.
There have been a series of landmark policies and measures introduced by governments over the course of the last 100 years in the US. The most significant include the passing of the Social Security Act by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. More recently, over 21 million Americans were lifted out of poverty in 2012 due to Social Security policies.
Although poverty rates have fallen across all age groups, perhaps the most noticeable changes are figures for older people. In 1959, 35.2% of over 64s were living below the poverty line. This number fell to 10% in 2014. The most significant contributing factor to this dramatic decline in the Medicare system, which provides financial assistance towards healthcare costs. At the age of 65, switching to Medicare reduces the risk of struggling to pay medical bills by 35%. The amount owed in healthcare costs also falls by a third.