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Gauging public response to government intervention

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession, researchers at Indiana and New York Universities investigated Americans' preferences concerning the role of government. They discovered that between 2008 and 2010, rather than calling for government intervention to address market failures and growing economic uncertainty, the American public supported less government intervention.

In 2010, the researchers repeated a telephone survey previously conducted in spring 2007, before the recession, and again in summer 2009, during the recession and early months of a new presidential term. The research team found evidence that political partisanship was the source of observed declining opinion trends regarding government intervention between 2008 and 2010.

This aggregate trend largely reflects opinion changes among one partisan group. Individuals identified with one party maintained a high and largely unchanging preference for a greater role for government, while individuals identified with the other party moved substantially away from supporting government intervention.

Public response to situations of economic crisis influences the long-term, macro-economic outlook. Polarized, ideologically-driven responses to short-term economic trends may have confounding impacts on the formation of public opinion and, in turn, generate complicated or unpredictable, long-term economic changes.

Images (1 of )

  • graphic depicts rising economic needs
  • graph shows public opinion and government responsibility
Americans preferred less government support between 2008 and 2010.
Nokhoog Buchachon, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The public wanted less government intervention between 2008 and 2010.
Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza

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