Americans are a generous people who want to help their neighbors. But they also expect their neighbors to do what they can to help themselves. The vast majority of Americans (89%) agree that able-bodied adults who receive welfare assistance from the government should be required to work or prepare for work in exchange for receiving benefits. Most government welfare programs do not include a work requirement, however.

Living Conditions a Crucial Part of Understanding Poverty

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 14.5% of Americans lived in poverty in 2014. However, the poverty measure tells very little about the actual living conditions of the poor. Government data shows that the average poor family in the U.S. has adequate housing, enough to eat, access to medical care, owns a car, and even has cable television, air conditioning, and a computer—conditions 73% of Americans think should not be considered poor.


Source: Online survey using a national representative sample of 879 U.S. voters conducted November 13, 2015 with a margin of error of ±3.3%.

American Perceptions Initiative is a project of The Heritage Foundation’s communications team.

This article is republished with permission from our friends at The Heritage Foundation.