Public Assistance Program Participation Rates, by Education Level, 2008

The percentage of high school graduates ages 25 and older living in households qualified for and receiving Medicaid was three times as high as the percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher participating in this program.

Figure 1.15: Percentage of Individuals Ages 25 and Older Living in Households that Participated in Various Public Assistance Programs, by Education Level, 2008
Figure 1.15: Public Assistance Program Participation Rates, by Ed Level, 2008
Notes & Sources 

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009; calculations by the authors.

  • In 2008, 8% of high school graduates ages 25 and older lived in households that relied on the Food Stamp Program (renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in October 2008), compared to just over 1% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree. The pattern was similar for the National School Lunch Program.
  • Participation in public assistance programs increases when the economy is weak and unemployment is high. The participation rates shown here for 2008 are all higher than in 2005.
  • From 2005 to 2008, Medicaid participation increased by 1.9 percentage points for high school graduates, 1.7 percentage points for associate degree recipients, and 0.7 percentage points for college graduates. Participation in the Food Stamp Program increased by 1.6 percentage points, 0.5 percentage points, and 0.2 percentage points, respectively, for these groups.