Poll: Vast Majority Support Four Simple Fixes to Welfare System

Report Public Opinion

Poll: Vast Majority Support Four Simple Fixes to Welfare System

December 7, 2017 1 min read Download Report
Elizabeth Fender
Director, Marketing
Elizabeth Fender serves as Director of Marketing at The Heritage Foundation.


With President Donald Trump contemplating welfare reform as a priority in 2018, many are turning attention to the programs and services meant to help the neediest in society. There are 92 major government programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care and social services to poor and low-income people at a cost of $1.1 trillion per year. Americans support a number of common-sense solutions that can ensure these programs help and do not harm the people they are meant to serve. Almost all Americans support eliminating waste and fraud in the system and requiring able-bodied adults to work or prepare for work to receive benefits. A full eight in 10 think the system should not penalize marriage. And with 89% believing that the welfare system needs changes, there is real appetite for reform in this area among the American people.

Key Takeaways

Most Americans (89%) believe the welfare system needs changes or reform.

About nine in 10 support reforms like eliminating waste and fraud (94%), adding work requirements (92%), paying for outcomes (88%), and encouraging marriage (81%).

Welfare reform should make sure the system is helping, not hurting, the people it serves.

Welfare Reform Poll Chart 1

Welfare Reform Poll Chart 2

Messaging Priorities

  • Waste and fraud in the welfare system should be eliminated.
  • Able-bodied adults who receive cash, food, housing, or medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work.
  • To help the poor, the government should pay for real outcomes like ensuring people get off drugs or find a job – not just for providing services.
  • Children are better off with a mother and father in the home. The welfare system should not penalize parents when they get married.



Elizabeth Fender
Elizabeth Fender

Director, Marketing