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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


VI.  Perceptions of the New Welfare Law

Now I have some specific questions about the welfare system. Not everyone will have heard about all the issues Iím asking about. Please answer each question to the best of your knowledge, but if youíre not sure about an answer, just say so.

33.To the best of your knowledge, has there been a major change in welfare laws in the past five years, or not?
(Results for total respondents)

 

Yes

No

Donít know

Total

50

18

32

<100%

54

21

25

100-200%

43

18

39

200%+

51

18

31

34. Just to refresh your memory the new welfare law, which Congress passed in 1996, ends the federal guarantee of public assistance for the poor. It also requires able-bodied recipients to work within two years. It sets a lifetime limit on federal benefits of five years for most people. And it gives the states a lot of flexibility. All in all, do you think the new welfare law is working well, or not?
(Results for respondents who believe there has been a major change in the welfare laws in the past five years)
[Total =1024, <100% =170, 100-200%= 290, 200%+ =564]

 

Working well

Not working well

Both

Donít know

Total

61

23

2

15

<100%

53

35

3

9

100-200%

54

26

1

18

200%+

63

20

2

15

35. The number of Americans receiving public assistance has dropped significantly over the last few years. Do you think this is mainly because the strong economy has created lots of new jobs in the past few years, or because changes in the welfare laws have forced more people to go to work?
(Results for respondents who believe there has been a major change in the welfare laws in the past five years)
[Total =1024, <100% =170, 100-200%= 290, 200%+ =564]


Strong economy has created lots of new jobs in the past few years

Changes in the welfare laws have forced more people to go to work

Both

Donít know

Total

23

62

11

4

<100%

16

73

5

6

100-200%

18

71

7

4

200%+

25

59

13

3

36. In general, has the new welfare law resulted in more or less respect for people on welfare, or has it had no impact on this?
(Results for respondents who believe there has been a major change in the welfare laws in the past five years)
[Total =1024, <100% =170, 100-200%=290, 200%+ =564]

 

More respect

Less respect

No impact

Donít know

Total

33

11

44

12

<100%

39

19

34

8

100-200%

39

13

35

12

200%+

31

10

47

12

37. In general, do you think the new welfare law has given the poor themselves more self-respect, less self-respect, or has it had no impact on this?
(Results for respondents who believe there has been a major change in the welfare laws in the past five years) [Total =1024, <100% =170, 100-200%=290, 200%+ =564]

 

More self-respect

Less self respect

No impact

Donít know

Total

57

8

25

9

<100%

52

20

23

5

100-200%

59

12

24

6

200%+

57

6

26

11

38. In general, do you think most people who have left the welfare rolls have gotten out of poverty, or do you think they are still poor, even if they have found jobs?
(Results for respondents who believe there has been a major change in the welfare laws in the past five years)
[Total =1024, <100% =170, 100-200%=290, 200%+ =564]

 

Out of poverty

Still poor

Donít know

Total

19

73

8

<100%

16

77

7

100-200%

19

74

7

200%+

19

72

9

39. Do you think the new welfare law has led women on welfare to have more children than they would have otherwise, fewer children, or has it made no difference?
(Results for respondents who believe there has been a major change in the welfare laws in the past five years)
[Total =1024, <100% =170, 100-200%=290, 200%+ =564]

 

More children

Fewer children

No difference

Donít know

Total

17

26

47

9

<100%

25

24

46

5

100-200%

18

29

43

10

200%+

16

26

48

10

40. Do you think the new welfare law has made it easier to get public assistance, harder to get public assistance, or hasn't it made much of a difference at all?
(Results for respondents who believe there has been a major change in the welfare laws in the past five years)
[Total =1024, <100% =170, 100-200%=290, 200%+ =564]

 

Easier

Harder

No difference

Donít know

Total

9

56

25

10

<100%

14

63

19

3

100-200%

13

55

22

9

200%+

7

55

27

11

41. There are many reasons people give for why they think the new law is working well. I'm going to read you a few of them. Please tell me whether each is a major reason you think the new law is working well, a minor reason, or not a reason at all:
(Results for respondents who think the new welfare law is working well)
[Total =613, <100% =97, 100-200%=165, 200%+ =351]


The law has substantially cut the welfare rolls.

 

Major

Minor

Not a reason

Donít know

Total

64

27

7

2

<100%

63

19

10

8

100-200%

56

32

11

2

200%+

66

27

6

2

The law requires people to go to work.


 

Major

Minor

Not a reason

Donít know

Total

87

9

3

1

<100%

75

16

6

3

100-200%

79

13

8

1

200%+

89

8

2

1

Welfare departments are now doing more to help poor people.


 

Major

Minor

Not a reason

Donít know

Total

52

28

14

6

<100%

64

17

12

7

100-200%

52

35

5

9

200%+

50

28

16

5

There is now less stigma attached to receiving welfare.


 

Major

Minor

Not a reason

Donít know

Total

28

40

27

5

<100%

42

30

17

10

100-200%

35

38

22

5

200%+

25

42

28

5

42. You mentioned (ITEMS)as major reasons. Which one would you say is the most important reason?
(Results for those who think the new welfare law is working well)
[Total =613, <100% =97, 100-200%=165, 200%+ =351]

 

Total

<100%

100-200%

200%+

The law has substantially cut the welfare rolls.

12

6

10

14

The law requires people to go to work.

64

49

59

66

Welfare departments are now doing more to help poor people.

13

31

20

10

There is now less stigma attached to receiving welfare.

4

4

4

4

None of these

6

10

8

6

Donít know

--

--

--

--

43. Some people believe the new law isn't working well because it is denying too many people the help they really need. Others believe it is not working well because it still hasn't cut enough people from the welfare rolls. Which belief is closer to YOUR view?
(Results for respondents who think the new welfare law is not working well or both not working well and working well)
[Total =271. <100%, 100-200%, 200%+ = too few respondents to report on]


 

Denying too many people the help they really need

Still hasnít cut enough people from the welfare rolls

Donít know

Total

64

31

5



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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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