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Nancy Folbre: Measuring Mooching -

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A more nuanced version of the deservingness problem shows up in a recent blog post by the Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, who called attention to a recent Congressional Budget Office report showing that government transfers, net of federal taxes, were greater than market income for the bottom three quintiles of all households ranked by market income in 2009.Professor Mankiw concluded that the lowest 20 percent of families were receiving $3 in government benefits for every dollar they earned and that the middle quintile “having long been a net contributor to the funding of government, is now a net recipient of government largess.”

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