Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

Rich and Poor Share Economic Views

With the financial crisis weighing on everyone’s minds, many debate whether our government’s economic policies cater to the rich over the poor.

But a new study finds it would be impossible to serve only one socioeconomic group, because people’s preferences tend to be overwhelmingly similar when it comes to how the federal government should spend its money.

Ellis and Joseph Ura, an assistant professor of political science at Texas A&M University, analyzed data from the General Social Survey on public opinion of government spending from 1973 to 2006. They found that, overall, the country would sway from being more fiscally conservative to more liberal, but that these trends occurred across all socioeconomics groups. In general, both rich and poor responded to changes in the nation’s economic health, or the actions of the federal government, in broadly similar ways.

For example, the public’s views of how the federal government should spend money on education, health care and the environment are similar regardless of socioeconomic level. Social issues, such as abortion, were not considered in the study.

More. There is a difference, of course, between what people want the government to do and what would actually serve their own interest. So it could be that the interests of rich and poor in America do diverge significantly even if their policy preferences do not. But given that attempts to influence policy are based on what people perceive to be their interests rather than on what their interests *really* are, this may be a distinction with less practical importance than one might think.


October 3, 2008 - Posted by | Economics, Politics

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