The Moocher Index : States with the Most Welfare recipients

Vermont - The Welfare State

Many folks think the Moocher states are all in the south because of lower wages and a large poor population based on national standards.  Not so.  The top recipient is Vermont.  Now one can undersand why Vermont elects socialist Bernie Sanders to the Senate. The next states on the list are Mississippi, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, and Alaska.  Hold it, aren’t most of them Democrat Governed and Union States?

Who are least dependent on public assistance?  Florida, Virginia, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

The Center for Immigration Studies recently put out a study arguing that immigration has had negative effects on California. One of their measures was a comparison of how many people in the state were receiving some form of welfare compared to other states. I found that data (see Table 3 of the report) very interesting, but not because of the immigration debate (I’ll leave others to debate that topic). Instead, I wanted to get a better understanding of the variations in government dependency. Is there a greater willingness to sign up for income redistribution programs, all other things being equal, from one state to another? The “all other things being equal” caveat is very important, of course, since the comparison produced by CIS may simply be an indirect measure of the factors that determine welfare eligibility. One obvious (albeit crude) way of addressing this problem is to subtract each state’s poverty rate to get a measure of how many non-poor people are signed up for income-redistribution programs. Let’s call this the Moocher Index.


A few quick observations. Why is Vermont (by far) the state with the largest proportion of non-poor people signed up for welfare programs? I have no idea, but maybe this explains why they elect people like Bernie Sanders. But it’s not just Vermont. Four of the top five states on the Moocher Index are from the Northeast, as are six of the top nine. Mississippi also scores poorly, coming in second, but many other southern states do well. Indeed, if we reversed the ranking and did a Self-Reliance Index, Virginia, Florida, and Georgia would score in the top 10. Nevada, arguably the nation’s most libertarian state, is the state with the lowest number of non-poor people signed up for welfare.

via The Moocher Index | Cato @ Liberty.

About Albert N. Milliron 6991 Articles
Albert Milliron is the founder of Politisite. Milliron has been credentialed by most major news networks for Presidential debates and major Political Parties for political event coverage. Albert maintains relationships with the White House and State Department to provide direct reporting from the Administration’s Press team. Albert is the former Public Relations Chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party in Georgia. He is a former Delegate. Milliron is a veteran of the US Army Medical Department and worked for Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Psychiatry.


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  2. Free and Reduce lunch programs are now the biggest moocher program. Texas has about 50 percent while Virginia is around 43 percent. Vermont is around 33 percent. However, free and reduce is not considered even if it has free breakfast and lunch for 18 years for kids except the summer months. All the free and reduce moochers are red states in the south except for California at 54 percent and Oregon at 51 percent. In fact food stamps is probably cheaper than free and reduce because you are made to get a job within 3 months to 5 years and are cut off the program but free and reduce the biggest US welfare program means lots of illegal immigrant children and low paying native born can get free and reduce lunch programs for there kids for 18 years.

  3. What percentage of each state’s populace is poor? What percentage of the populace compared to the population is receiving support from the government? I like the term Moocher Index…

  4. Nice going – instead of defining “moocher states” as those who take more from Washington than they send in taxes, you found a way to spin it so that it would be Democratic, union states that earned the title.

    Of course, states take more from DC than just welfare benefits, and an honest evaluation would recognize that fact. In fact, even with its welfare recipients, Vermont ranks 25th on the list of moocher/producer states, with $1.12 received in federal spending, including welfare benefits, for every dollar of taxes sent to DC.

    Where do the other states named in the article stand on the real moocher list? Florida, Virginia, and Arizona are net moochers, while Colorado and Nevada are net producers.

    • Conveniently, you neglect to supply a reference for your foolish attack. Please borrow some grey matter and tell us about the useless federal jobs and contracts handed to cronies on a taxpayer purchased platter. The States in the NE have deceptive ways of funneling taxpayer dollars to line their pockets while claiming producers in other states are getting more than their share. Given the opportunity the red states would happily separate from the pigs in the DC empire where rules, laws, and oppressive regulations are designed to squash opposition to a bullying government.

  5. The Cato institute puts ideology ahead of science, so it’s hard to take them seriously.  
    They do seem to despise both Republicans and Democrats, even if they do align themselves more closely with Republicans.

    • This crybaby had no contrary argument, just that he doesn’t like that a private institute is not closely aligned with his own [liberal] political beliefs.