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The Public Response to the Consequences of Social Security Private Accounts

Social Security is an important domestic policy issue before the American public. While many public surveys contain questions about Social Security, there are few current, comprehensive assessments of how the public views the Social Security program, including assessments of public attitudes toward private accounts carved from Social Security funds. To gauge public attitudes on these issues, a telephone survey of 1,500 age 30+ individuals was conducted by AARP and Roper Public Affairs in late December 2004.

This survey found that, while majorities have favorable views of Social Security and want the program to remain much as it is, there are still substantial concerns about whether benefits will be there for younger generations. Because of this uncertainty, the public wants the program to be strengthened, but they do not see private accounts as the way to do this. While about 4 in 10 agree generally with a generic proposal for private accounts, this drops to as little as 10 percent when some consequences of these accounts are presented.

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