Here’s the good news: poverty in the US is way down compared to where it was just a few decades ago. As technology improved and the country became wealthier, we’ve seen a fall in the number of people struggling to get nutritious food, healthcare, and shelter. The overall story of the past fifty years is overwhelmingly positive. The debate as to who is responsible for the impressive improvements that we’ve seen in standards of living, however, rages on. No doubt, the private sector made a massive difference. Innovators and entrepreneurs have found ways to produce more goods, more cheaply, passing on lower prices to consumers. The government, however, probably played a role too. For instance, some academics believe that the introduction of government welfare in the 1960s and 1970s led to a dramatic halving of the number of people living below the poverty line. Furthermore, when you take into account the so-called “in-kind” benefits, like healthcare, food, and education, the proportion of individuals in poverty in the US is probably even lower. The true extent of the government’s role in reducing poverty and increasing family budgets, however, isn’t entirely known. While there is some evidence suggesting that poverty reduction initiatives were successful, we’ll never know their full cost on the rest of society. If you’re interested in this topic, take a look at the following infographic. It charts some of the figures and statistics associated with government welfare programs, pointing out some of the areas where the state may have been successful in combating poverty.