Americans Are Mistaken About Who Gets Welfare

People significantly overestimate the number of African-Americans benefiting from the largest programs.

By Arthur Delaney and Ariel Edwards-Levy

Survey respondents’ estimation of who receives welfare tracked closely to their estimation of who gets food stamps. Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents said the program’s recipients are mostly black or that there are as many black Americans as white Americans receiving benefits. Only 21 percent correctly said there are more white than black food stamp recipients.

“Across the programs people overestimate the share of recipients who are black,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy. “It’s not surprising because we all know people’s images of public benefits is driven by stereotype.”

Trump himself harbors mistaken views of who receives welfare benefits, according to reporting by NBC News. During a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus last March, one member of Congress told Trump that welfare cuts, which the president had proposed in his budget, would harm her constituents, specifying that not all of them were black.

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