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

Download data and study materials from OSF

This experiment was fielded as part of a TESS telephone survey. Data and materials for all the studies included on this survey is available here.

Principal investigator:

Devah Pager

Harvard University

Email: devah_pager@harvard.edu

Homepage: http://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/people/devah-pager

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.


Memory questions
Cash assistance, job training questions


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