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Social Security is a High Priority Among Americans

Given projections concerning the financial health of Social Security, the program is poised to receive attention from policymakers in the near future. Extensive survey and polling research demonstrates that a strong majority of Americans believe Social Security is an important program they view favorably, and opposes reductions in funding that would reduce benefits. Moreover, close to 9 out 10 believe Congress should work immediately to ensure full benefits for current and future beneficiaries.

Consistent with these earlier findings, my analysis of data from another expansive and prominent survey finds a strong desire across many different strata of American society – by age, race, education, and political affiliation – for adequate Social Security funding.

A high priority across a wide spectrum of the American public

The data examined come from the General Social Survey (GSS), a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population ages 18 and over from 1984 to 2021. As the chart below shows in further detail, there is widespread support for spending on Social Security across a wide range of people. In particular, the data demonstrate:

  1. Support for Social Security is strong across all age groups, with more than 90 percent of respondents feeling that either too little or the right amount is spent on the program. Even among those 18 to 29, less than 10 percent feel we spend too much.
  2. Three-quarters of Black Americans feel too little is spent on Social Security, while about half of white and Hispanic Americans share the same view. Nevertheless, across these racial and ethnic groups, a small percentage of people feel too much is spent.
  3. People with less education are far more likely to feel too little is spent on Social Security; however, across all education categories some 90 percent feel too little or about the right amount goes to Social Security.
  4. Finally, whether individuals identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans doesn’t matter much; over 90 percent of people with either political affiliation feel either too little or the right amount is spent on the program.

Social Security going forward

Financial projections from the Social Security Administration indicate the program will have sufficient funds to pay scheduled benefits until 2035, and numerous proposals over the years have emerged that would extend this even further. As Congress continues to discuss Social Security reforms, this research highlights the program’s popularity among Americans of all backgrounds.

For more on this topic, watch Jim Palmieri discussing his November 2023 report on how Americans view Social Security.

Social Security Enjoys Widespread Public Support

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