Across the OECD, the net redistributive impact (cash benefits received minus direct taxes paid) of social policy for low income households stands at about 40 percent of market income. But it is barely half that in the United States, making our rate of redistribution one of the lowest in the industrialized world. Much the same pattern holds for other kinds of social spending, including such in-kind benefits as education or public health care. Indeed, in each category of social spending, the United States spends significantly less than its peers [see graphic below]—the only exception being health care, a reflection of unusually high U.S. health costs rather than more generous coverage.
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