White racism keeps hurting programs that help the poor.
By Dylan Matthews@firstname.lastname@example.org Jun 7, 2018,
White people become significantly less likely to support welfare programs when told that black people might benefit from them.
That’s a crucial conclusion from a newly released study by Berkeley sociologist Rachel Wetts and her Stanford colleague Robb Willer in the journal Social Forces. The authors conducted two different experiments to see how white Americans’ attitudes toward nonwhite people affect their views on welfare spending. Both experiments found that showing white Americans data suggesting that white privilege is diminishing — that the US is becoming majority nonwhite, or that the gap between white and black/Latino incomes is closing — led them to express more opposition to welfare spending. …
How the new study works
The new study seeks to address those concerns. To disentangle racial animus from legitimate small-government beliefs, Wetts and Willer structured their experiments so that they could compare the welfare policy views of people exposed to information suggesting a threat to whites’ social status (either a projection that America is becoming majority nonwhite or data showing the white-black/Latino income gaps closing) and people who were not exposed.
Because exposure to the information is randomly determined, one would expect each group to have similar levels of genuine conservatism on economic policy and welfare. The only difference is that one group has been primed to think about threats to white status in the US.
That difference turns out to matter quite a bit. In the first experiment, participants were shown either population projections from 2000 to 2020, which showed white Americans maintaining their majority with relatively minor changes,
In short, Group A gets shown only 20 years of information. Here’s the Good Graph that only divulges 20 years of data:
or projections from 1960 to 2060, which show a dramatic reduction in the white population share until it reaches minority status.
Group B gets shown 100 years of information, or five times as much. And here’s the Evil Graph that lets slip 100 years of data:
The authors called these the “Majority Salient” [Group A] and “Decline Salient” [Group B] groups, respectively.
Each group was then asked if they agreed with two statements on welfare policy — “We are spending too much money on welfare” and “Public assistance is necessary to ensure fairness in our society” — and given a game where they had to find $500 million to cut from the federal budget; the game offered nine spending categories, one of which was “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Welfare).”
“While white participants who were told that whites continue to be the largest single ethnic group in the United States proposed cutting $28 million from federal welfare spending, those told that whites’ population share is substantially declining proposed cutting $51 million,” the authors find. “In addition, whites in the Decline Salient condition reported significantly greater opposition to welfare and higher levels of racial resentment on survey measures.” Black, Latino, and Asian people in the study, by contrast, gave similar answers no matter what information they were shown.
The threat of white decline appeared to prompt whites to turn against welfare, with minimal effect on everyone else.
In other words, the more ignorant the whites were kept, being shown only 20 years of trends, the more liberal their views on welfare. In contrast, the better informed the whites became, being allowed to see 100 years of trends, the less liberal their views.
This pattern of ignorance promoting liberalism explains much about what you are shown in the papers (and what you are not shown).