The American Enterprise Institute and the Los Angeles Times have joined together to release a new survey of attitudes toward the poor, poverty, and welfare in the United States. Here are seven figures from the report you should know about:
1. The poor are more than twice as likely as those not in poverty (24 percent to 10 percent) to say the church has the greatest responsibility for helping the poor. The poor are also slightly less likely (31 percent to 35 percent) to say the government has the greatest responsibility.
2. More people in poverty (40 percent) than those who are not (32 percent) say that government efforts to reduce poverty have made things worse.
3. A majority of people think poor people are hardworking, though the percentage of those in poverty who believe this (72 percent) is higher than those who are not in poverty (63 percent).
4. Of those in poverty, the same percentage (41 percent) think that welfare benefits give poor people a chance to stand on their feet and start again as think that is encourages people to stay poor. Of those not in poverty, 31 percent think it helps them get started again and 61 percent say such benefits encourage people to stay poor.
5. About the same percentage of the poor say that unmarried adults almost always (24 percent) choose not to get married to avoid losing welfare benefits as say that it almost never happens (28 percent).
6. Only one quarter of Americans (25 percent of the poor, 22 percent of the non-poor) say that even if the government were willing to spend whatever is necessary to eliminate poverty in the U.S. the government does not know enough to accomplish the task.
7. Almost all those not in poverty (91 percent) and an overwhelming number of the poor (81 percent) support requiring poor people to seek work or participate in a training program in return for benefits.