Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

Health Care, Race and Political Polarization – Short Stack

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Health Care, Race and Political Polarization – Short Stack.

Washington Post guest bloggers Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler talk about political polarization, Race and the health care debate.

As evidence of the link between health care and racial attitudes, we analyzed survey data gathered in late 2008. The survey asked people whether they favored a government run health insurance plan, a system like we have now, or something in between. It also asked four questions about how people feel about blacks.

Taken together the four items form a measure of what scholars call racial resentment. We find an extraordinarily strong correlation between racial resentment of blacks and opposition to health care reform.

Among whites with above average racial resentment, only 19 percent favored fundamental health care reforms and 57 percent favored the present system. Among those who have below average racial resentment, more than twice as many (45 percent) favored government run health care and less than half as many (25 percent) favored the status quo.

Now neither the authors or myself make or would make the argument that people are deciding whether or not to support health care reform because it would benefit minorities.  What I would argue from this is that in general, though not universal, whites with above average racial resentment tend to be more conservative in their ideology and thus also more likely to oppose a liberal health care proposal.

I would also argue that the President’s race plays a role in the criticism of his policies.  Now by this I am not saying that he is being criticized primarily because of his race, but instead his race makes it easier for SOME to criticize whereas if he where white maybe there are some who would keep their commentaries more to themselves rather than out in the public.


Written by nilesbw

September 22, 2009 at 2:50 pm

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