If you are the account owner, please submit ticket for further information. DIVIDING LINES How do Americans view poverty? In 1985, Dorean Sewell talked to The Times about raising three children in a Baltimore low-income on her salary from a fast-food low income investment fund los angeles, as part of a newspaper series on American attitudes about poverty.
A new poll by The Times and the American Enterprise Institute revisits those opinions. American attitudes toward the poor and poverty, according to a new survey of public opinion, which finds empathy toward the poor and deep skepticism about government antipoverty efforts. The differences illuminate some of the passions that have driven this year’s contentious presidential campaign. But the poll, which updates a survey The Times conducted three decades ago, also illustrates how attitudes about poverty have remained largely consistent over time despite dramatic economic and social change. Americans who have given the strongest support to Donald Trump. The opposite view — that jobs for the poor are hard to find, that government programs help people get back on their feet and that most of the poor would rather earn their own way — is most widely held among blacks and other minorities, who have provided the strongest backing to Hillary Clinton. Roughly a third of self-described conservatives say that the poor do not work very hard, a view at odds with big majorities of moderates and liberals.
But while Americans disagree in how they view the poor, they’re more united in their skepticism of government programs. The new survey, which was conducted by The Times and the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank that is generally conservative, asked similar questions but with some updating. Much has changed since the 1980s. Welfare got a major overhaul in the 1990s.
The number of poor Americans dropped sharply in that decade, only to partially rise again, particularly during the deep recession that began in 2007. But many attitudes have held steady, the new poll found, particularly doubts about the federal government’s ability to run its antipoverty programs, as well as their justification. Most Americans do not believe that the government bears the main burden of taking care of the poor. That figure has not budged in three decades.
Those who did not think the government has the main responsibility were split about who does. Just under one in five Americans said that the poor themselves bear the greatest responsibility. Republicans were most likely to put responsibility on the poor themselves. White Americans were less likely to call government responsible than were minorities, but the difference lay almost entirely with blue-collar whites— those without college degrees. White Americans who graduated from college were as likely to say government has the prime responsibility as were nonwhites. Attitudes toward antipoverty programs also have not changed much since the 1980s.