When the economy grows again, most Americans would like to see increased spending on healthcare most of all, according to a study released today by Harris Interactive.
Surveying 3,462 adults online between May 19 and May 27, Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris asked which of eight major segments of the economy should be the highest priority for future growth.
Most people picked healthcare (34%), education (29%) or defense (27%), while very few chose any of the other items: housing (4%), food (3%), automobiles and transportation (1%), clothes (less than 0.5%) or leisure and entertainment (less than .05%).
"The public sees healthcare as a 'superior good,' as a better way of spending money than on bigger and better cars, more clothes, more food, more vacations, more jewelry, bigger houses or more entertainment," Harris Interactive says in a release.
But the survey finds that Americans under age 40 are less likely to rate healthcare highly.
Among people aged 18 to 24 years, 39% picked education, 25% picked defense and only 23% picked healthcare as the No. 1 spending category. And among those aged 25 to 29 years, 36% picked education, 29% picked healthcare and 24% picked defense.
There are also substantial differences according to political affiliation, Harris says.
Healthcare topped the list of priorities among Democrats (42%) and independents (39%) as well as among liberals (48%) and moderates (35%). But only 22% of Republicans and 23% of conservatives chose healthcare, whereas 45% of both of those groups picked defense.