Study: Racism Behind Destruction Of U.S. Social Safety Net

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The more white Americans believe their status is under threat, the more likely they are to support welfare cuts.

According to a recent study, increasing racial resentment on the part of White Americans appears to be driving the group toward a more critical view of the country’s social safety net.

From The Washington Post:

> The study, conducted by researchers at two California universities and published Wednesday in the journal Social Forces, finds that opposition to welfare programs has grown among white Americans since 2008, even when controlling for political views and socioeconomic status.


> White Americans are more likely to favor welfare cuts when they believe that their status is threatened and that minorities are the main beneficiaries of safety net programs, the study says.


> The findings suggest that political efforts to cut welfare programs are driven less by conservative principles than by racial anxiety, the authors conclude. T hat also hurts white Americans who make up the largest share of Medicaid and food-stamp recipients. President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans have proposed deep cuts to both programs.

Rachel Wetts, a doctoral candidate in sociology at UC Berkeley, and Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer conducted three experiments to determine white American's views toward the welfare system, as well as the driving forces behind those view.

> Those results show that the push to cut welfare programs is not driven by pure political motives, such as decreasing government spending or shrinking government bureaucracy, Wetts said.


> “We find evidence that these shifts [in sentiment against welfare programs] are specifically directed at programs people see as benefiting minorities instead of whites,” she added.

Wetts cautioned that there could be other factors which also help to explain the decline in support for America's social safety net, but her study is not an outlier in terms of findings that racial resentment is a driving force among white Americans' political views:

> A major study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in April concluded that President Donald Trump was voted into office by people anxious about rising racial diversity and globalization.


> Researchers have also shown that white Americans' racial prejudice affects their views on everything from healthcare policy to the death penalty to dogs. On the same day Wetts' paper published, a separate study in the journal Environmental Politics found that people with high levels of "racial resentment" are more likely to believe that the scientific consensus on climate change is false.

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