Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Americans Feeling A Class Conflict

om PEW Research Center Publications, with additional finding summarized here below. 

Rising Share of Americans See Conflict Between Rich and Poor

The Occupy Wall Street movement no longer occupies Wall Street, but the issue of class conflict has captured a growing share of the national consciousness. A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between the rich and the poor -- an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.
Not only have perceptions of class conflict grown more prevalent; so, too, has the belief that these disputes are intense. According to the new survey, three-in-ten Americans (30%) say there are "very strong conflicts" between poor people and rich people. That is double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009 and the largest share expressing this opinion since the question was first asked in 1987.
As a result, in the public's evaluations of divisions within American society, conflicts between rich and poor now rank ahead of three other potential sources of group tension -- between immigrants and the native born; between blacks and whites; and between young and old. Back in 2009, more survey respondents said there were strong conflicts between immigrants and the native born than said the same about the rich and the poor.
See the full report for more findings on these subjects:

Note:  My summary of content follows each topic:

Perceptions of the wealthy

The way I read this study, it seems most adults are more aware of the polarity and conflict between the rich and poor without necessarily feeling themselves to be more aggrieved. Attitudes about how the rich got that way haven't changed much and most don't feel there is anything that needs to be fixed.  In fact, a recent Gallup survey found that a smaller share of the public believes that income inequality is a problem today than held that view in 1998 (45% vs. 52%).

Social conflict in America

Two-thirds of the public say there are strong  or very strong conflicts between the rich and the poor while 23% view them as “not very strong.” Only 7% say there are no conflicts. This perception of class conflict registered higher in public perception than immigrant vs. citizen conflict, black vs. white citizens conflict or young vs. old conflicts. 
Income and perceptions of class conflict

The perceptions of class conflict is broadly held across all income brackets and is growing in all income groups.  It may be growing fastest among those making between $40K and $75K per year (which is a group that includes those making the median household income, essentially the middle class.)

Demographics of class conflict

Those between 19 and 35 years old are most likely to perceive a strong conflict between rich and poor, followed by their parents, the baby boomers between 50 and 62 years old.  Women tend to see it more than men.  Black citizens have seen the conflict sooner (74% currently ) while the percentage of white citizens perceiving the conflict  is growing rapidly.  There is only a 9% spread at this point.

Politics of class conflict

Democrats and political liberals are far more likely than Republicans or conservatives to say there are major conflicts between rich people and poor people, but the perception of conflict is grown proportionally in all groups.
Views of how the rich got wealthy

Americans divide nearly evenly when they are asked if the rich became wealthy mostly due to their own hard work or mainly because they were born into a wealthy family or had connections.

A narrow plurality (46%) believes the rich are wealthy because they were born into money or “know the right people.” But nearly as many (43%) say the rich got that way because of their own “hard work, ambition or education.”  These ratio's have not changed much since 2009.

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