I’m a little late to this, but over at The Monkey Cage Nathan Kelley attempts “to gain some empirical leverage” on the 47 percent assumptions of Mitt Romney et al. The problem of defining “takers” in such a way that satisfies statistical analysis is challenging, to be sure, but I concur with Kelley that those who are employed and/or taking no benefits would reasonably be excluded. Thus the number of “takers,” meaning those not working and receiving benefits, represents about 24.7 percent.
A lot of folks who are determined to view this issue as entirely binary — the productive “us” versus the mooching “them” — may or may not reject the notion that only a quarter of households are “takers.” Perhaps that number is too low to justify harbingers of a modern-day “soft-despotism,” and the picture looks even less conducive to hysterics once you look at who is included in the 24.7 percent:
As you can see the retired make up just over half of that 24.7 percent. Hm. One wouldn’t think they should be included, considering they probably contributed at some point in their lifetimes. That would leave around 12 percent as “takers,” just leaving the discussion there, which is a far cry from “half of the country.”
Yet Kelly goes a step further by reconfiguring his first chart that covers the age 15 and up population into this (with my snarky two-cents):
Yes. Those who are working age, not students, not disabled, unemployed and receiving government benefits is a whopping 2.4 percent. Two point four percent. And if one wanted to be less generous and add in those who live in a household with a worker that number increases to 5.4 percent. Of course I imagine some number of those are stay at home moms, who even Ann Romney would probably characterize as having a “job.” So it might be more appropriate in sticking to the 2.4 percent whose existence supposedly constitutes a moral threat to society and who might have the gall to proffer an opinion on national policy that represents a fundamentally undemocratic state of affairs.