Public responses to health disparities: How group cues influence support for government iintervention

Elizabeth Rigby, Joe Soss, Bridget C. Booske, Angela M.K. Rohan, Stephanie A. Robert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Objective. To examine whether public support for government intervention to address health disparities varies when disparities are framed in terms of different social groups. Method. A survey experiment was embedded in a public opinion poll of Wisconsin adults. Respondents were randomly assigned to answer questions about either racial, economic, or education disparities in health. Ordered logit regression analyses examine differences across experimental conditions in support for government intervention to address health disparities. Results. Health disparities between economic groups received the broadest support for government intervention, while racial disparities in health received the least support for government intervention. These differences were explained by variation in how respondents' perceived and evaluated health disparities between different social groups. Conclusion. Efforts to garner public support for policies aimed at eliminating health disparities should attend to the politics of social diversity, including the public's disparate perceptions and evaluations of health disparities defined by different social groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1321-1340
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I thank to Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Canada and my postdoctoral supervisor, David Ackerly, for financial support during the current post-doctoral tenure at Stanford University. I also wish to thank Drs. David Ackerly, Susan Harrison, and Jeannette Whitton for useful comments on the manuscript.


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