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


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 paper, 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.

American Political Science Review
Jake Alton Jares
Jake Alton Jares
PhD Candidate in Political Economics

I am a PhD candidate in political economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.