Advertisement

Race, “Deservingness,” and Social Spending Attitudes: The Role of Policy Delivery Mechanism

  • Christopher Ellis
  • Christopher Faricy
Original Paper

Abstract

This paper examines how the means through which social benefits are delivered—either through a direct government program, or through a tax expenditure program—affects how citizens view social welfare programs and their beneficiaries. Attitudes toward social spending in the United States are strongly conditioned by both racial considerations and perceptions of the deservingness of recipients. We argue that the political cues given by spending conducted through the tax code differ from those given by direct spending in a way that both de-racializes spending attitudes and changes the lens through which citizens evaluate the deservingness of beneficiaries. Through a series of survey experiments, we demonstrate that social benefits delivered through the tax code are less likely to activate racialized thinking than similar or identical benefits delivered directly. This is true, at least in part, because recipients of tax expenditures are perceived as more deserving than recipients of otherwise identical direct spending.

Keywords

Public opinion Social spending Symbolic racism Social policy Inequality 

Notes

References

  1. Aarøe, L., & Petersen, M. B. (2014). Crowding out culture: Scandinavians and Americans agree on social welfare in the face of deservingness cues. Journal of Politics, 76(3), 684–697.Google Scholar
  2. Achen, C. H., & Bartels, L. M. (2016). Democracy for realists: Why elections do not produce responsive government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Acs, G., & Toder, E. (2007). Should we subsidize work? Welfare reform, the earned income tax credit and optimal transfers. International Tax and Public Finance, 14(3), 327–343.Google Scholar
  4. Athreya, K. B., Riley, D., & Simpson, N. B. (2010). Earned income tax credit recipients: Income marginal tax rates, wealth, and credit constraints. Economic Quarterly, 96(3), 229–258.Google Scholar
  5. Bobo, L. (1998). Race, interests, and beliefs about affirmative action: Unanswered questions and new directions. American Behavioral Scientist, 41(7), 985–1003.Google Scholar
  6. Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Dotsch, R., Cooley, E., & Keith Payne, B. (2017). The relationship between mental representations of welfare recipients and attitudes toward welfare. Psychological Science, 28(1), 92–103.Google Scholar
  7. Burman, L. E., & Phaup, M. (2012). Tax expenditures, the size and efficiency of government, and implications for budget reform. Tax Policy and the Economy, 26(1), 93–124.Google Scholar
  8. Clawson, R., & Trice, R. (2000). Poverty as we know it: Media portrayals of the poor. Public Opinion Quarterly, 64(1), 53–64.Google Scholar
  9. Converse, P. E. (1964). The nature of belief systems in mass publics. Critical Review, 18(1), 1–74.Google Scholar
  10. DeSante, C. D. (2013). Working twice as hard to get half as far: Race, work ethic, and America’s deserving poor. American Journal of Political Science, 57(2), 342–356.Google Scholar
  11. Ellis, C., & Stimson, J. A. (2012). Ideology in America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Falk, G. (2016). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Size and characteristics of the cash assistance caseload. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.Google Scholar
  13. Faricy, C. G. (2015). Welfare for the wealthy: Parties, social spending, and inequality in the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Faricy, C., & Ellis, C. (2014). Public attitudes toward social spending in the United States: The differences between direct spending and tax expenditures. Political Behavior, 36(1), 53–76.Google Scholar
  15. Feldman, S., & Zaller, J. (1992). The political culture of ambivalence: Ideological responses to the welfare state. American Journal of Political Science, 36(1), 268–307.Google Scholar
  16. Gilens, M. (1996). Race and poverty in America: Public misperceptions and the American news media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60(4), 515–541.Google Scholar
  17. Gilens, M. (1999). Why Americans hate welfare: Race, media, and the politics of antipoverty policy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gitterman, D. P. (2010). Boosting paychecks: The politics of supporting America’s working poor. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  19. Goren, P. (2008). The two faces of government spending. Political Research Quarterly, 61(1), 147–157.Google Scholar
  20. Grogger, J., & Karoly, L. A. (2009). Welfare reform: Effects of a decade of change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hacker, J. S. (2002). The divided welfare state: The battle over public and private social benefits in the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hancock, A.-M. (2004). The politics of disgust: The public identity of the welfare queen. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  23. Haselswerdt, J., & Bartels, B. L. (2015). Public opinion, policy tools, and the status quo: Evidence from a survey experiment. Political Research Quarterly, 68(3), 607–621.Google Scholar
  24. Hedegaard, T. F. (2014). The policy design effect: Proximity as a Micro-level explanation of the effect of policy designs on social benefit attitudes. Scandinavian Political Studies, 37(4), 366–384.Google Scholar
  25. Henry, P. J., Reyna, C., & Weiner, B. (2004). Hate welfare but help the poor: How the attributional content of stereotypes explains the paradox of reactions to the destitute in America. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34(1), 34–58.Google Scholar
  26. Henry, P. J., & Sears, D. O. (2002). The symbolic racism 2000 scale. Political Psychology, 23(2), 253–283.Google Scholar
  27. Hetherington, M. J. (2005). Why Trust matters: Declining political trust and the demise of American Liberalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hetherington, M., & Rudolph, T. J. (2015). Why Washington won’t work: Polarization, political trust, and the governing crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hoffman, S. D., & Seidman, L. S. (2003). Helping working families: The earned income tax credit. Kalamazoo, MI: Upjohn Institute.Google Scholar
  30. Holt, S. (2006). The earned income tax credit at age 30: What we know. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  31. Howard, C. (1997). The hidden welfare state: Tax expenditures and social policy in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Howard, C. (2007). The welfare state nobody knows. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Iyengar, S. (1990). Framing responsibility for political issues: The case of poverty. Political Behavior, 12, 19–40.Google Scholar
  34. Jacoby, W. G. (1994). Public attitudes toward government spending. American Journal of Political Science, 38(2), 336–361.Google Scholar
  35. Jacoby, W. G. (2000). Issue framing and public opinion on government spending. American Journal of Political Science, 44(4), 750–767.Google Scholar
  36. Kellstedt, P. M. (2003). The mass media and the dynamics of American racial attitudes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lei, R. F., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2017). Racial assumptions color the mental representation of social class. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(4), 519–533.Google Scholar
  38. Link, M. W., & Oldendick, R. W. (1996). Social construction and white attitudes toward equal opportunity and multiculturalism. Journal of Politics, 58(1), 149–168.Google Scholar
  39. Lupia, A. (2016). Uninformed: Why people know so little about politics and what we can do about it. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. McCall, L. (2013). The undeserving rich: American Beliefs about inequality, opportunity, and redistribution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. McCloskey, H., & Zaller, J. (1984). The American ethos: Public attitudes toward democracy and capitalism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Mettler, S. (2011). The submerged state: How invisible government policies undermine American democracy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  43. Moffitt, R. (2003). The role of nonfinancial factors in exit and entry in the TANF program. Journal of Human Resources, 56(6), 1221–1254.Google Scholar
  44. Murray, C., & Kneebone, E. (2017). The earned income tax credit and the white working class. Washington, DC: The Urban-Brookings Institute.Google Scholar
  45. Page, B. I., & Jacobs, L. R. (2009). Class war?: What Americans really think about economic inequality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  46. Petersen, M. B. (2012). Social welfare as small-scale help: Evolutionary psychology and the deservingness heuristic. American Journal of Political Science, 56(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
  47. Petersen, M. B., Slothuus, R., Stubager, R., & Togeby, L. (2011). Deservingness versus values in public opinion on welfare: The automaticity of the deservingness heuristic. European Journal of Political Research, 50(1), 24–52.Google Scholar
  48. Pierson, P. (1993). When effect becomes cause: Policy feedback and political change. World Politics, 45(4), 595–628.Google Scholar
  49. Piston, S. (2018). Class attitudes in America: Sympathy for the poor, resentment of the rich, and political implications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Reyna, C., Henry, P. J., Korfmacher, W., & Tucker, A. (2006). Examining the principles in principled conservatism: The role of responsibility stereotypes as cues for deservingness in racial policy decisions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(1), 109–128.Google Scholar
  51. Rudolph, T. J., & Evans, J. (2005). Political trust, ideology, and public support for government spending. American Journal of Political Science, 49(3), 660–671.Google Scholar
  52. Schneider, A., & Ingram, H. (1993). Social construction of target populations: implications for politics and policy. American Political Science Review, 87(2), 334–347.Google Scholar
  53. Schroedel, J. R., & Jordan, D. R. (1998). Senate voting and social construction of target populations: A study of AIDS policy making, 1987–1992. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 23, 107–132.Google Scholar
  54. Slothuus, R. (2007). Framing deservingness to win support for welfare state retrenchment. Scandinavian Political Studies, 30(3), 323–344.Google Scholar
  55. Sniderman, P. M., & Piazza, T. L. (1995). The scar of race. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Soroka, S. N., & Wlezien, C. (2010). Degrees of democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Stimson, J. (2011). The issues in representation. In P. Enns & C. Wlezien (Eds.), Who gets represented? (pp. 347–360). New York: Russell Sage Press.Google Scholar
  58. Stimson, J. (2016). Tides of consent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Surrey, S. S. (1970). Tax incentives as a device for implementing government policy: A comparison with direct government expenditures. Harvard Law Review, 84, 705–738.Google Scholar
  60. Tesler, M. (2016). Post-racial or most-racial? Race and politics in the Obama Era. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  61. Twyman, J. (2008). Getting it right: YouGov and online survey research in Britain.”. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 18, 343–354.Google Scholar
  62. van Oorschot, W. (2000). Who should get what, and why? On deservingness criteria and the conditionality of solidarity among the public. Policy & Politics, 28(1), 33–48.Google Scholar
  63. van Oorschot, W. (2006). Making the difference in social Europe: Deservingness perceptions among citizens of European welfare states. Journal of European Social Policy, 16(1), 23–42.Google Scholar
  64. Will, J. A. (1993). The dimensions of poverty: Public perceptions of the deserving poor. Social Science Research, 22(3), 312–332.Google Scholar
  65. Williamson, V. S. (2017). Read my lips: Why Americans are proud to pay taxes. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Winter, N. (2006). Beyond welfare: Framing and the racialization of white opinion on social security. American Journal of Political Science, 50(3), 400–420.Google Scholar
  67. Wlezien, C. (1995). The public as thermostat: dynamics of preferences for spending. American Journal of Political Science, 39(4), 981–1000.Google Scholar
  68. Zaller, J. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political Science, Maxwell School of Public AffairsSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations