'I Don't Agree with Giving Cash': A Survey Experiment Examining Support for Public Assistance
41 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2015
Date Written: March 17, 2015
Existing sociological research on support for anti-poverty programs largely focuses on broad categories of welfare or assistance to the poor rather than particular types of transfers. Using an experimental survey design and mixed methods research, we examine whether support for anti-poverty programs is consistent across different types of anti-poverty programs. We find that programs that offer benefits in-kind are more popular than cash transfers. Food stamps and child care subsidies, in particular, garner greater support than cash welfare while housing assistance falls in a middle ground between food stamps/childcare subsidies and cash welfare. However, when public assistance comes through an increase in personal tax obligation, only food stamps remain more popular than cash welfare. The qualitative findings show that when evaluating anti-poverty programs, respondents adopt one of two perspectives: (1) cash assistance is problematic but other forms of assistance are acceptable or (2) any assistance is problematic. We conclude with a discussion of policy implications and how these findings may inform future sociological research.
Keywords: welfare, public assistance, poverty, survey experiment
JEL Classification: C93, D30, D60, D61, D63, D64, H20, H31, H41, H53, I31, I38
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