In June, I wrote about the minimum wage, and mentioned that I'd found only one survey that offered people the option of saying it should be reduced. I recently found another, very recent, example: a survey sponsored by United Technologies and the Congressional Journal in December 2013 asked: "the federal minimum wage is now $7.25. Do you think the federal minimum wage should be raised, lowered, or should it stay the same?" 71% said raised, 2% said lowered, and 25% said stay the same. The report also broke responses down by a number of characteristics. Who was more likely to say that it should be reduced? More affluent people, men, and people with more education. Independents were the most likely to say that it should be reduced (4%, compared to 2% of Republicans and 1% of Democrats). The difference I find most interesting is education. The people who are most likely to take a consistent laissez-faire position are the "intellectuals"--the very people that supporters of laissez-faire like to see as their enemy. This is just one survey question, but I've seen the same pattern often enough to be pretty sure that it's real.
The other day, Nicholas Kristof had a column about racial inequality. It was mostly about objective differences, but he started by saying that "a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism." A note in the study says that the sample was "randomly selected from a panel of 2.5 million respondents." That raises the question of whether the panel is representative of the American population--there are many groups of 2.5 million that aren't. One survey of the whole American population is discussed in this post. People were asked about how much discrimination there was against seventeen groups: whites ranked last (least discrimination against) while blacks ranked fourth. There are other questions on the topic, which I'll consider in a future post.
[Data from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]