Public Transfer Accounts by Age and Education Level, U.S., 1964-2004: A Look at Inequality and the Public Sector

Tim Miller, University of California, Berkeley
Ryan D. Edwards, Queens College (CUNY)

In the United States, public transfers accounted for more than half of the $3.2 trillion dollars spent by the federal, state, and local governments in 2002. Tax and transfer programs include social security pension programs, provision of medical care, provision of education, welfare aid, workers compensation, job training, etc. We develop a set of Public Transfer Accounts for the United States for the period 1964 through 2004. These accounts track the average amount of taxes paid and benefits received from federal, state, and local governments based on the age and educational level of individuals. We use these accounts to analyze the redistributive effects of government transfer programs across age and time and education groups. Because of the strong association of educational attainment and income, these Public Transfer Accounts can be used to gauge the progressive effects of government spending and tax policies over the last 40 years.

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Presented in Poster Session 1