Pew on inequality

Great Pew report on public opinion and inequality.  I love that it asks a number of questions that get to the heart of the debate.  E.g.,

Why are Some People Poor and Others Rich?

Unfortunately, they don’t have a table breaking that down by PID, but I think we can all guess how it would look.  Also quite interesting is this trendline that shows Americans have less belief/faith in the value of hard work (and I would argue rightly so):

Does Hard Work Lead to Success?

Actually, though, I think genuine hard work and determination will still work for most anybody in America.  The difference is that medium work and medium determination will take you really far if you are born upper-middle class and take you nowhere if you are born in an impoverished inner city.  The slackers that I grew up with are all doing quite well (judging by Facebook).  Had these same individuals grown up in a poor rural or inner city area I’m convinced the results would be quite different.  The truth is not enough people really have an innate great work ethic and determination.  And even if you have inborn inclinations in that direction, it’s easy to see how that can be beaten out of you in an environment with indifferent parenting, an indifferent education system, and endemic poverty in your community.

Finally, I think it is encouraging that on a basic level most Americans– including most Republicans– think there is a non-trivial role for government in reducing poverty:

More Republicans, Independents Favor Gov’t Action on Poverty than Inequality

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Pew on inequality

  1. Stefan says:

    Actually, there is a table indicating why people are rich and poor:

    Also, how do you define “slackers?” Was it from high school? or college? As a high school slacker who spent a year in Myanmar (then Burma) that changed me, college was a much different experience.

    • Stefan says:

      It wouldn’t let me embed the table. It’s number 9 in there report. It’s at the bottom of page 2 of the report. And it’s just what you would think. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans attribute being rich to working harder than others, but only 27 percent of Democrats attribute it to working harder.

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