A recent study published in Social Forces found that white Americans have grown increasingly critical of the country’s welfare programs since 2008, even when the study looked at the numbers with political views and socioeconomic status in mind. White Americans are usually on board for cuts to safety net programs when they believe those programs are mainly supporting minorities. The research suggests that reform efforts are driven by racial anxiety and not by conservative principles.
The researchers conducted three experiments looking to gauge the attitude of white Americans towards the welfare programs and what factors influence those attitudes. The results weren’t very pretty.
The experiments found that white Americans thought cuts should be made to welfare programs after being given charts showing that white is projected to be a racial minority in 50 years time and also after being shown a chart showing POC benefit the most from said programs.
According to Rachel Wetts, lead author on the project:
“We find evidence that these shifts [in sentiment against welfare programs] are specifically directed at programs people see as benefiting minorities instead of whites."
The researchers aren’t ruling out other factors as major contributors to the data. For instance, there's a tendency for people to grasp more tightly to conservative politics in times of rapid change. However, researchers have found that white American’s let racial prejudice skew their views on everything. For example, there is a high correlation between increased racism and the belief that climate change is false.
Understanding these racial biases is important as it affects what legislation is passed and how people vote. With the Trump administration already allowing states to require work hours in order to receive Medicaid, something that has proven to be racially biased in at least one state, white people need to check their racism before showing up at the polls.
Read more about the study, “White America’s racial resentment is the real impetus for welfare cuts, study says” written by Caitlin Dewey and posted by The Washington Post on May 30, 2018.