To many Americans paying students and parents money just for doing what they are supposed to – attending school, holding down a job – may seem unusual, but many other countries have welfare programs where people are paid money for meeting simple conditions. In Brazil and Mexico families receive payments for meeting simple conditions, such as sending their children to school regularly, while in certain European countries students from poor backgrounds receive weekly payments from the government to encourage them to stay in school. The idea is beginning to gain traction in the US, now that private philanthropists are funding similar pilot programs in Memphis and the South Bronx, two of the most deprived areas of the United States.
The latest research from YouGov shows that most Americans oppose programs like these. 53% of Americans oppose the government paying an attendance bonus to students from low-income families, while only 27% support it. Only 32% think that such a stipend would improve the graduation rate, while 44% think it would make no difference. Support is somewhat higher for good grade bonuses (34%) and graduation bonuses (35%), but half the public still opposes these programs too.