Medicare for All?

I am collaborating with Adrienne Scott to field a framing experiment that examines how senior citizens’ concern for their fellow seniors’ status might moderate their support for Medicare for All.

Our project is influenced by social identity theory, literature on the wages of whiteness, and scholarship on the influence of deservingness in social policy.

Most concretely, we expect that seniors who are most attached to their identity as such will be less likely to support Medicare expansion when they are told that a policy that is “for seniors” will be expanded to include younger people.

This experiment is currently being pre-tested.

Next steps

Findings from this experiment will prompt further inquiry into:

  • How policy uptake constructs popular understandings of identity labels like “seniors.”
  • How anxieties about deservingness are not sidestepped by making social policies universal.


Motivating analysis: We present evidence from the ANES that age acts as a social identity. Across all years where both survey questions are available, Americans, on average, feel warmer to senior citizens than young people, and the differential warmth only increases with Americans’ age.

ANES. 2019. “2012 Time Series Cumulative Data File.” Data available here.

Colin Cepuran Written by:

Colin Cepuran is a political scientist and a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University.