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Tough Times Require Strong Social Security Benefits: Views on Social Security among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and White Americans

By: Maya Rockeymoore and Melissa Maitin-Shepard
Published: February 2010

SUMMARY: Americans agree that Social Security has an important role to play during tough economic times. Worried about the poor economy’s effects on their prospects for retirement, Americans want to make sure that Social Security is strengthened for current and future generations. This is particularly true of African Americans (95%) and Hispanics (85%), who are more likely than whites (80%) to assert that Social Security is or will be an important part of their retirement income. Plagued by higher unemployment rates, fewer assets, and worries about paying their monthly bills, African Americans and Hispanics are especially supportive of strengthening Social Security. For example, when given a choice between cutting taxes and government spending or strengthening Social Security in response to the economic crisis and large deficit, two in three Americans (66%) – including 73 percent of African Americans, 67 percent of Hispanics, and 66 percent of whites – support strengthening Social Security over cutting its benefits. African Americans (90%), Hispanics (86%), and whites (75%) also strongly support benefit enhancements, such as extending benefits to college age children whose working parents have died or become disabled. Overall, 88 percent of African Americans, 84 percent of Hispanics, and 74 percent of whites agree that preserving Social Security for future generations is critical, even if it means increasing Social Security taxes on workers. A large majority of African Americans (98%), Hispanics (98%), and whites (90%) also agree that Congress should take action soon to strengthen Social Security’s financial outlook and guarantee income for benefit recipients.

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