On March 9, the Survey Research Institute (SRI) at Cornell University released a special report on public opinion towards Social Security in New York State as part of their annual Empire State Poll. Each year, the Empire State Poll takes a new issue. This year’s report provides a general outline of public support within New York State towards Social Security revisions.
The results of the Empire State Poll have been found to be consistent with results of polls taken nationwide, although, “the level of opposition is probably a little higher in New York state,” said Erik Nisbet ’94, research associate at the Survey Research Institute.
One of the more important findings of the Empire State Poll is that the economic situation of the respondents played a big role in their views on social security revisions. “It is important to point out the correlation between expectations — whether you are positive or negative about your economic future — and support for he revisions,” said Lou Jean Fleron, the economic development initiatives director at the Survey Research Institute. Indeed, the poll found that respondents in a better financial situation, as well as respondents with a better perception of the future of New York State economy, were more likely to accept revisions.
As for the respondents who most opposed the revisions, those aged 56 or older, Fleron said that “They do not have enough time to invest their taxes, revisions are much more urgent to them.”
This finding should be compared to the amount of undecided respondents in the 18-35 age group, the largest undecided age group, to whom Social Security revisions are a long way away from playing a critical role in their lives. According to Pete Myers from the Ithaca Living Wage Coalition, however, “All people need to have that kind of insurance for when they retire, and privatization threatens that,” stressing the fact that no one should avoid the revisions no matter how far away they are from actually affecting them.
Fifty-one percent of New York State opposed Social Security revisions, which would allow private investment of Social Security taxes, as stated in the poll. From this 51 percent, fewer upstate residents (45 percent) opposed the revisions than downstaters (54 percent).
Out of the respondents who declared their political affiliation, 63 percent of Republicans supported the revisions, compared to 22 percent of Democrats. From respondents who opposed the revisions, 66 percent were Democrats, while 64 percent of Republicans supported them.
This suggests that there is greater opposition to the revisions among Democrats than support among Republicans.
The pool of undecided respondents from all political affiliations were found to be concentrated in lower income households, individuals with a high school level of education or below and between the age group of 18 to 35.
Unionized households were more likely to oppose the revisions than non-Unionized households, and respondents with higher educational levels were found to be the least undecided on the subject. Respondents 56 or older were the age group who least supported revisions.
Overall, the opinions towards Social Security revisions tend to be negative all around New York State. Despite the fact that highest income households are the ones who most support the revisions, there is a greater amount of respondents in the same category who take an opposing side.
“If the program needs to be revised, it should be fixed with some minor tweaks” said Mitch Fagen ’07, president of the Cornell Democrats.
The Cornell Republicans could not be reached for comment.
Archived article by Ana Li-Carrillo