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Who Deserves a Helping Hand?:Attitudes about Government Assistance for the Unemployed by Race, Incarceration Status, and Worker History

Download data and study materials

*Part of TESS 2005 Telephone Survey

Download Telephone Survey Data (includes materials for all surveys in module)

Principal Investigator(s):

Devah Pager
Harvard University
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Sample size: 1214
Field period: 10/13/2005 - 02/07/2006



We propose a replication and expansion of a previous TESS project, examining public attitudes about assistance for the unemployed by race, cause of unemployment, and worker
history. We seek to (1) replicate the earlier experiment, allowing greater power for testing predictions for black respondents and of higher-order interactions; (2) provide a follow-up question that will allow detection of greater variability in attitudes; (3) examine whether the type of government assistance influences levels of support; and (4) assess the salience of race and incarceration status relative to other characteristics in decisions about public assistance.


We predict elements of stereotypes to be more salient in recall relative to neutral characteristics, and that the clustering of consistent characteristics will further promote recall further.

We hypothesize that we will replicate the higher rates of “a lot” of support for black recipients than white recipients for the job
training question, but that this effect will either be eliminated or reversed for the direct payment

Experimental Manipulations:

As part of a larger research program to investigate the effects of race and crime on the stratification outcomes of young men, we seek here to examine how public opinion about government assistance to the unemployed is affected by race, incarceration status, and work history.

Key Dependent Variables:

Memory questions
Cash assistance, job training questions


Please see the proposal document in the "data and study materials" file.

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