Is the American Economic System Fair? Republicans, Democrats Divided


About six in ten American adults (63%) say the country’s economic system unfairly favors powerful interests, compared to a third (33%) who say it is generally fair for most, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. Americans. While general views on this issue have changed little in recent years, the partisan divide has grown.

For the first time since the Center first asked the question in 2014, a clear majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents (57%) now say the economic system is generally fair to most Americans. As of spring 2016, a 54% majority of Republicans believed the economic system unfairly favored powerful interests.

And while large majorities of Democrats and Democratic supporters have long said the U.S. economic system unfairly favors powerful interests, the proportion of those who say so has risen since 2016 – from 76 percent then to 84 percent today.

Partisan differences extend to beliefs about why people are poor or rich.

Democrats and Skinny Democrats are more likely to say that why a person is poor generally has more to do with circumstances beyond their control (69%) than with lack of effort (18%). Among Republicans and Skinny Republicans, a greater proportion say a person is poor more because of lack of effort (48%) than because of circumstances beyond an individual’s control (31% ).

Among American adults overall, 52% indicate circumstances beyond a person’s control, while 31% say it is a lack of effort on their part; 12% of volunteers are both equal contributors.

Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say that people are rich because they worked harder - and that people are poor because of lack of effort

When it comes to why a person is rich, the public as a whole is divided: 43% of American adults say it’s more because they worked harder than most, while 42 % say it’s more because they had more benefits in life than most. the other people. Again, the two partisan coalitions have surprisingly different views on this issue.

About seven in ten Republicans (71%) say a person is generally more likely to be wealthy because they have worked harder than others, and only 18% say a person’s wealth is more likely to be wealthy. ‘be the result of having more benefits in life. In contrast, only 22% of Democrats say wealth is generally more likely to be the result of working harder, while 62% say it generally has more to do with benefits that others did not have.

Among Republicans, there is a significant ideological divide on this issue: nearly eight in ten conservative Republicans and skinny Republicans (79%) say a person is more likely to be rich because they worked harder, against 49% among moderates and liberals. republicans. There is a more modest ideological divide among Democrats.

Republicans increasingly attribute wealth to working harder, rather than having greater benefits in life

While Republicans have long been more likely than Democrats to attribute someone’s wealth to hard work, the partisan gap on this issue has roughly doubled (from 25 to 49 percentage points) over the four last years.

The share of Republicans who attribute more wealth to hard work has steadily increased since 2014, from 54% to 71%. At the same time, there was a more modest 7 percentage point change in the other direction among Democrats.

Opinions about why some people are rich and poor also vary by family income. Those with an annual family income of $ 75,000 or more are more likely than those with an income below $ 30,000 (49% vs. 36%) to say that being rich is more due to hard work than to the benefits of somebody. Those with lower incomes, in turn, are more likely than those with higher incomes to say that a person is poor more because of circumstances beyond their control than because of a lack of money. effort.

Better-off people are more likely to attribute wealth to personal effort

Correction: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly cited the amount of time during which the partisan gap in views on why a person is rich roughly doubled.

Amina dunn is a research analyst focusing on US politics and politics at the Pew Research Center.


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