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NPR/Kaiser/Kennedy School Poll

Poverty in America

As shown, some questions were asked only of subsets of respondents (e.g., people who said they knew about the new welfare law). The tables identify whether the results reflect percentages of the overall population or percentages of a subset. In some cases results for particular income-level subgroups are not shown because there were too few respondents on which to report. Some demographic questions are not shown, but all questions are presented in the order in which they were asked. An asterisk (*) indicates a response of less than 1%.

Return to the Summary or skip to a section:

I. General Background | II. Why Are People Poor? | III. Perceptions of Poor People | IV. The Government's Role | V. Perceptions of Welfare and Welfare Recipients | VI. Perceptions of the New Welfare Law | VII. Personal Experience with Economic Problems | VIII. Demographics


IV.  The Government's Role

19. In terms of the amount of money we as a country are spending on assistance to poor people, do you think we are spending too much, too little, or about the right amount?
(Results for total respondents)

 

Too much

Too little

Right amount

Donít know

Total

18

38

36

8

<100%

12

47

32

9

100-200%

14

39

37

10

200%+

20

36

36

7

20. If the government were willing to spend whatever it thought was necessary to eliminate poverty in the United States, do you think that this is something that could be accomplished, or not?
(Results for total respondents)

 

Yes

No

Donít know

Total

47

49

4

<100%

65

29

6

100-200%

55

39

6

200%+

43

54

3

21. Do you think government programs that try to improve the condition of poor people in this country are generally making things better, are making things worse, or aren't having much impact one way or another?
(Results for total respondents)

 

Making things better

Making things worse

Not much impact one way or the other

Donít know

Total

34

13

48

4

<100%

43

11

44

2

100-200%

35

11

48

6

200%+

33

14

49

4

22. Earlier in this interview you said it's (easier/harder) than it was ten years ago for poor people to get out of poverty by working hard. How much (credit/blame) do you give the federal government for making it (easier/harder)--a lot, some, not much, or none at all?
(Results for respondents who think it is easier or harder than it was ten years ago for poor people to get out of poverty)

Easier: [Total =819, <100% =101, 100-200%= 215, 200%+ =503]

 

A lot

Some

Not much

None at all

Donít know

Total

15

51

21

12

2

<100%

26

51

13

9

1

100-200%

19

51

21

6

3

200%+

13

51

21

13

2

Harder: [Total =1000, <100% =181, 100-200%= 362, 200%+ =457]

 

A lot

Some

Not much

None at all

Donít know

Total

26

47

15

8

4

<100%

33

42

16

8

2

100-200%

26

45

16

8

5

200%+

24

49

15

8

4

17/22 Combined

 

Total

<100%

100-200%

200%+

Easier (NET)

44

34

34

48

A lot of credit

6

9

6

6

Some credit

23

17

18

24

Not much credit

9

4

7

10

No credit at all

5

3

2

6

Harder (NET)

48

62

59

44

A lot of blame

12

20

15

11

Some blame

23

26

26

22

Not much blame

7

10

9

7

No blame at all

4

5

4

4

Donít know

7

4

7

8

23. Here is a list of things the government could do to directly help the poor in America. Please tell me if you support or oppose each.
(Results for one-half of total respondents)
[Total = 977, <100% = 146, 100-200% = 308, 200%+ = 523]


Increasing the minimum wage


 

Support

Oppose

Donít know

Total

85

14

1

<100%

93

7

*

100-200%

91

9

*

200%+

82

17

1

Increasing tax credits for low-income workers


 

Support

Oppose

Donít know

Total

80

17

3

<100%

80

17

3

100-200%

79

18

4

200%+

81

16

3

Increasing cash assistance for families


 

Support

Oppose

Donít know

Total

54

40

6

<100%

75

22

3

100-200%

58

36

6

200%+

51

43

7

Expanding subsidized daycare


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

85

12

4

<100%

90

7

2

100-200%

76

14

10

200%+

86

12

2

Spending more for medical care for poor people


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

83

14

2

<100%

88

11

1

100-200%

83

14

3

200%+

83

15

3

Spending more for housing for poor people


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

75

23

2

<100%

84

16

--

100-200%

79

18

2

200%+

72

25

3

Making food stamps more available to poor people


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

61

35

4

<100%

78

18

3

100-200%

71

25

4

200%+

57

39

4

Guaranteeing everyone a minimum income


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

57

39

5

<100%

71

26

3

100-200%

61

31

7

200%+

54

42

4

24. Here is a list of things the government could do that some people say would reduce poverty in America. Do you support or oppose the government doing each?
(Results for one-half of total respondents)
[Total = 977, <100% = 146, 100-200%= 308, 200%+ = 523]


Requiring public schools to teach about moral values and the work ethic


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

83

15

2

<100%

87

10

3

100-200%

85

12

3

200%+

82

16

2

Expanding public employment programs


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

82

14

4

<100%

88

7

5

100-200%

87

9

4

200%+

79

17

4

Expanding job-training programs


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

94

5

1

<100%

95

3

2

100-200%

94

4

2

200%+

94

5

1

Improving public schools in low-income areas.


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

94

5

1

<100%

93

5

2

100-200%

94

4

2

200%+

94

5

1

Making it harder to get divorced.


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

38

55

7

<100%

42

44

13

100-200%

47

48

5

200%+

36

58

6

Putting more police in low-income areas.


 

Support

Oppose

Don't know

Total

72

25

3

<100%

78

17

5

100-200%

80

18

2

200%+

69

28

3

25. Would you be willing to pay more in taxes to pay for more of such government spending to help the poor?
(Results for total who support programs that can directly help the poor/reduce poverty in America and could cost money)
[Total =1926, <100% =291, 100-200%=607, 200%+ =1028]

 

Yes

No

Don't know

Total

57

40

3

<100%

60

36

4

100-200%

55

40

5

200%+

57

40

2

26. Would you be willing to pay $200 a year more in taxes?
(Results for respondents who would be willing to pay more in taxes for more government spending to help the poor)
[Total =1127,<100% =187, 100-200%= 338, 200%+ =602]

 

Yes

No

Donít know

Total

78

19

3

<100%

66

30

3

100-200%

71

25

4

200%+

80

17

3

24/25/26 Summary

 

Total

<100%

100-200%

200%+

SUPPORT PROGRAMS (NET)

99

99

99

98

Willing to pay more in taxes (NET)

56

59

54

56

Willing to pay $200

44

39

39

45

Not willing to pay $200

11

18

14

9

Not willing to pay more in taxes

39

36

40

40

DO NOT SUPPORT PROGRAMS

1

1

1

2

Donít know

--

--

--

--



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Methodology

The results of this project are based on a nationwide telephone survey conducted in English and Spanish between January 4 and February 27, 2001, among a random representative sample of 1,952 respondents 18 years of age and older. There was an oversample of 546 respondents who were identified as having an income of less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Overall the sample included 294 respondents having an income of less than 100% of the federal poverty level, 613 having an income of between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level, and 1,045 with an income above 200% of the federal poverty level. The results for all groups are weighted to reflect the actual distribution in the nation. The field work was conducted by ICR/International Communications Research. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for total respondents, plus or minus 7.5 percentage points for those with an income of less than 100% of the federal poverty level, plus or minus 5.4 percentage points for those with an income of between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level, and plus or minus 2.6 percentage points for those with an income above 200% of the federal poverty level. For results based on subsets of respondents the margin of error is higher.

When interpreting the data, keep in mind that because this was a telephone survey, it under-represents groups less likely to have telephones, such as people with very low incomes.

 





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