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Georgians pessimistic about eliminating poverty

Georgians pessimistic about eliminating poverty

Athens, Ga. – Georgians see poverty as an intractable problem; more than half of all Georgians (54 percent) believe that current programs to address poverty are making no difference. Additionally, 51 percent say that even if government were willing to spend whatever it thought was necessary, the task of ending poverty could not be accomplished.

When asked what the minimum a household of four people would need to get by with just the bare necessities, the public responded with an average of $44,351 (median response was $40,000). Women, African Americans, wealthier residents and those without a college degree offer significantly higher answers than do men, whites, lower-income and college-educated residents, respectively. The average response to what a family of four needs to live comfortably in Georgia was $68,599.

The Peach State Poll is an ongoing survey of public opinion conducted by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Other Peach State Poll results:

  • Fifty-six percent of Georgians characterize people in poverty, generally, as people who work but cannot earn enough to get by.
  • Among nine possible causes of poverty offered in the poll, the cause most often cited as a major cause was drug abuse, cited by 79 percent of all poll respondents.
  • The possible causes least cited as a major cause were the poor quality of public schools (46 percent), a shortage of jobs (48 percent), and too many immigrants (48 percent).
  • Although poverty is rarely offered as the most important problem facing the state in open-ended questions, two-thirds of all poll respondents (67 percent) characterize poverty as a major problem when asked how big a problem it is.

These data were taken from a Peach State Poll survey conducted May 4-17. The poll included 802 telephone interviews of randomly selected adults in Georgia. For a sample of this size, the margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/-3.5 percent.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a public service and outreach unit of the University of Georgia, has as part of its mission to provide policymakers with systematic, objective research to inform policy decisions. In accordance with that mission, the Peach State Poll aims to give voice to the public on important policy matters and issues pertaining to political, social, and economic life in Georgia.

For more information on this survey or other Peach State Poll results, see