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'I Don't Agree with Giving Cash': A Survey Experiment Examining Support for Public Assistance

41 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2015  

Colin S. Campbell

Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin - Madison

S. Michael Gaddis

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Sociology

Date Written: March 17, 2015

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Campbell, Colin S. and Gaddis, S. Michael, 'I Don't Agree with Giving Cash': A Survey Experiment Examining Support for Public Assistance (March 17, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2599513 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2599513

Colin S. Campbell

Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
United States

S. Michael Gaddis (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Sociology ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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