Lifting people out of poverty is an enduring target for US presidents. There has been a huge amount of discussion about poverty in the US, but what is the situation, and do policies make a difference? The infographic below outlines the decline in poverty rates in the 20th and 21st centuries, providing an insight into the most impactful measures of the last 70 years.

Poverty rates in the US have fallen. In 2014, 21.1% of the population was living in poverty compared to 27.3% in 1959. Since 1970, the average personal income has also increased by almost 50%. The infographic also suggests that the rate of poverty might actually be lower as a result of the US Census not taking certain benefits, for example, food stamps and tax credits, into consideration. 

Over the years, numerous measures have been introduced to try and fight poverty. In 2012, Social Security lifted over 21 million Americans out of poverty. The Social Security Act was passed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and later amended by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. The initial act targeted senior citizens, low-income families and the vulnerable. In 1965, Medicare and Medicaid were launched. These programs have revolutionized the healthcare system and undoubtedly contributed to declining poverty rates among over 65s. In 1959, the proportion of people aged over 64 living below the poverty line was 35.2%. In 2014, the figure was 10%.

Politicians will probably always be criticized, but it is estimated that government policies have helped to lift a total of over 48 million Americans out of poverty.

Infographic Design By Norwich University