Mistaken beliefs about who benefits most from the social safety net has led white Americans to oppose programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), and other government assistance initiatives in greater numbers—and could trigger the further weakening of such programs, according to a new study.
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In a study titled “Privilege on the Precipice,” published in the journal Social Forces, researchers at Stanford University and UC Berkeley reported that across the political spectrum and socioeconomic statuses, white opposition to social welfare programs has risen sharply since 2008.
A major correlation to this opposition was the incorrect belief that minorities use Medicaid, SNAP benefits, and other programs more than white Americans. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Department of Agriculture, 43 percent of Medicaid recipients and more than 36 percent of SNAP beneficiaries are white—by far the largest percentage in terms of racial demographics.
“My main hope here is that people take a step back, look at what these sorts of programs do for the poor, and think about what’s driving opposition to them,” Rachel Wetts, a sociology researcher at UC Berkeley, told the Washington Post.
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