The Relationship between Public Attitudes of Welfare Policy and U.S. Economic Downturn, Economic Ascent, and Economic Compliancy
MetadataShow full item record
My research explores the relationship between public attitudes towards welfare policy and the condition of the U.S. economy. Specifically, I was interested in whether attitudes regarding public welfare policy would improve during an economic crisis or deteriorate. I have also found several relationships that predict the support or opposition of welfare spending for particular groups. To determine these relationships, I analyzed survey data from the General Social Survey (GSS) to determine the relationships between public opinion towards welfare policy. I analyzed data of self-reported information from 1974 to 2014, and this data set included approximately 60,000 respondents. The variables I tested included: respondent gender, respondent age, respondent race, respondent party affiliation, and respondent education level. Additionally, to determine the relationships between public attitudes, welfare policy, and the state of the U.S. economy, I included three hypotheses: a) Hypothesis 1: There is a relationship between public attitudes of welfare and economic hardship, b) Hypothesis 2: Public policy, like welfare, is influenced by public opinion, and vice versa, c) Hypothesis 3: Economic events and respondent variables influence welfare policy and public opinions. Overall, I found that economic events do slightly influence public opinion towards welfare spending. For example, support for welfare spending slightly increased during the Great Recession. Furthermore, a spike in welfare opposition was recorded in 1994. This may be explained by the political discourse of welfare policy at that time because soon after the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was passed. This would suggest that public policy change is influenced by public opinion. Finally, respondent variables of age, race, education level, and political party affiliation influence welfare attitudes.
Moreland, Alissa M (2016). The Relationship between Public Attitudes of Welfare Policy and U.S. Economic Downturn, Economic Ascent, and Economic Compliancy. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from