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Does Receiving Government Assistance Shape Political Attitudes? Evidence from Agricultural Producers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 April 2022

University of California, Berkeley, United States
Stanford University, United States
Stanford University, United States
Sarah F. Anzia, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, United States,
Jake Alton Jares, Ph.D. Candidate, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, United States,
Neil Malhotra, Edith M. Cornell Professor of Political Economy, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, United States,


When individuals receive benefits from government programs, does it affect their attitudes toward those programs or toward government generally? A growing literature blends policy feedback theory and political behavior research to explore these questions, but so far it has focused almost exclusively on social policies such as the Affordable Care Act. In this article, we focus on a very different set of government programs that reach a more conservative, rural population: agricultural assistance. Our study ties administrative records on participation in USDA farm aid programs to an original, first-of-its-kind survey measuring agricultural producers’ political attitudes. We find that receiving agricultural assistance is sometimes related to producers’ views of the program delivering the benefits, but it depends on the divisiveness of the program and—for highly partisan programs—recipients’ ideology. However, receiving federal agricultural assistance is not associated with more positive views of government.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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