The Poverty-Reducing Effect of Five Key Government Programs in Rural and Urban America

Federal programs are critical for helping those with low incomes make ends meet. But not all such programs are equally effective at reducing poverty, nor do they benefit all of those in poverty uniformly. In this brief, we explore the extent to which rural and urban residents access five social programs–Social Security, disability benefits, federal and state cash assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)–and the effect of these programs individually and collectively in bringing family incomes closer to the poverty threshold.