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In the United States, economic inequality has become part of the national political debate. We conducted this survey to better understand how Americans feel about this issue and how those views vary by party affiliation and key demographic variables, particularly income.
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This report is from 6,878 US adults in September 2019. The report also includes the results of a separate survey conducted in early September. The adults surveyed were members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Team (ATP), an online survey group recruited from a random sample of addresses nationwide. Recruiting by phone or mail appeals to almost all American adults. This provides confidence that any sample is representative of all adults in the United States (see the discussion of Random Sampling Methods 101).
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To further ensure that each ATP survey reflects a balanced cross-section of the country, the data are matched to groups of US adults by gender, race, ethnicity, political affiliation, education, and other categories. Learn more about ATP’s methodology and the methodology of this report.
To create the high, middle, and low income levels used in this report, household income was adjusted for differences in purchasing power by geographic region and household size. We then divided respondents by income bracket using the same method as the Center for American Middle Class Studies. Median income is defined as two-thirds of the average annual income of the survey sample. Low-income people are below this range, and high-income people are above this range. For more information on how to construct income levels, see the methodology section of this report.
With just over a month to go before the first cause and primary election, economic inequality and how to address it has become central to the Democratic presidential race and will likely continue to be a central issue in the general election. . Six in 10 U.S. adults say economic inequality has become too much in the country recently, and a majority of this group says the country’s economic system is important and they say it needs to change.
However, compared to other issues, reducing economic inequality is not high on the list of public issues to be addressed by the federal government. About 4 in 10 say it should be a priority, far fewer than those who say the same about affordable health care, fighting terrorism and reducing gun violence.
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Democrats outnumber Republicans or Republican-leaning voters who say reducing economic inequality should be a top priority for government (61 percent to 20 percent).
Similarly, Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say economic inequality is greater in America today (78% vs. 41%).
Among those who believe economic inequality is too high, 7 in 10 believe some level of inequality is acceptable, compared with a majority of Democrats (68%) and Republicans (77%). Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Democrats say economic inequality is too high, 14% say the economic system needs major changes to address it, and 14% say the system should be completely overhauled. Half of Republicans say the system needs major overhauls, and 12 percent say the system should be rebuilt.
In addition to class differences, the survey found that perceptions of economic inequality vary by income level. For example, half (52%) of low-income Americans say reducing economic inequality should be a priority for the federal government. Those with moderate incomes (39%) or high incomes (36%) were less likely to agree. However, while the percentage of adults in all income groups who believe that inequality is too great in the country today is about the same, 85% of adults in the highest income bracket agree, compared to 72% in the middle income bracket and 59% in the lower income bracket. People.
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When Democrats are asked about the causes of economic inequality in the country, Republicans are more likely than Republicans to cite structural factors such as tax policy (56% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans say it is the main contributor) and problems with the American people. may be mentioned. Education systems (49% vs. 38%) Conversely, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to care about living standards disparities (60% of Republicans vs. 27% of Democrats) who say they contribute significantly to economic inequality.
The findings come as economic inequality continues to widen in the United States. In 2018, households near the top of the income ladder earned 12.6 times more than those at the bottom. By comparison, in 1980, households near the bottom had nine times the income of households near the bottom.
When it comes to wealth accumulation, only the top 20% of net worth households regained the wealth lost during the Great Recession. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, the median net worth of these households is now 13% higher than in 2007, and households in the 20th to 40% of the wealth distribution have lower net worth than in 2007. A decrease of 39% compared to the previous year. . Government data.
The national survey was conducted between the 16th and 29th of 6,878 American adults. September 2019, using Pew Research Center’s US Trends Panel.
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A majority of Americans who believe economic inequality is too high say the federal government and big business should take more responsibility for reducing it.
Nearly two-thirds (66%) of Americans believe economic inequality is so great in the country these days that the federal government should take on more responsibility for reducing it; 62% say large corporations and corporations should take on more responsibility. Responsibilities. In this context. About half (52%) think the government should take more responsibility for reducing inequality, and 46% think the same goes for the wealthy.
Democrats, who believe there is too much economic inequality in the country, argue that states and the federal government, corporations and the wealthy should take more responsibility for reducing inequality than Republicans. Double digits are higher. Three-quarters of Democrats believe economic inequality is too high and the federal government should take on more responsibility to reduce it, while 44 percent of Republicans believe inequality is now too high.
More than half of Republicans and Democrats believe economic inequality is too high, and making sure workers have the right skills would go a long way toward reducing it.
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A majority of adults who believe economic inequality is too high in the U.S. want workers to have the skills they need for today’s jobs (62%), and the wealthiest Americans say raising taxes (60%) would go a long way toward cutting them. Inequality. Whether or not they personally support the measures, more than 4 in 10 support making tuition free at public two- and four-year colleges, expanding Medicare to Americans of all ages, raising the federal minimum wage and ending college debt. Respondents said this would go a long way in loosening the economy. Inequality
Republicans and Democrats say there is too much economic inequality in the country, and there are differing views on how effective various measures are at reducing inequality, but majorities on both sides (56% of Republicans and 65% of Democrats think so) would do great things This problem is solved by ensuring that workers have the right job skills. Among those who think inequality is too high, only one in 10 measures seen as reducing illegal immigration has the support of more Republicans (45%) than Democrats (8%). has a significant impact on reducing inequality. .
Majorities across income groups say the government should raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to address economic inequality, but very few say they should.
Eight in 10 adults (84 percent) who believe economic inequality is too high (with equal proportions in each income group) believe the government should help the wealthy deal with inequality in the country. He argued that Americans should be taxed. increased. Democrats (91%) are more likely than Republicans (65%) to believe that inequality is too high and that the government should reach out to the wealthiest Americans to address economic inequality. Majorities of both groups agree. .
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Meanwhile, 86 percent of Americans say there is too much economic inequality in the country today and that the government should not raise taxes on people like them to address the problem. Only 12% said the government should raise taxes on people like them. Among the highest-income Americans (those in the top 7% of the inflation-adjusted income distribution), about a third (34%) think economic inequality is too high, but that the government should raise taxes. People
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