Economic Inequality
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Most Americans feel there’s too much inequality in the United States. Roughly half say that addressing this inequality requires making substantial changes to the economic system. Despite this, 70% of those who feel there is too much inequality also feel that some amount is inevitable and acceptable.

42% of Americans state that reducing inequality should be a high priority for the federal government. Among these, a large majority feels that the issue should be prioritized for two reasons:

  1. The influence economic inequality gives to the wealthy.
  2. The limits it places on the opportunities of others.

While they feel it should be a high priority, Americans don’t rank inequality among the major problems faced by the nation.

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Beyond this, views on economic inequality dramatically different according to party and household income. Opinions also vary according to income within these party coalitions, especially among Republicans.

economic inequality debt
Credit: Grand Ave

6 in 10 Americans Feel The Economic Inequality

61% of Americans say there is too much economic inequality in the US today. 23% feel that country has roughly the right amount of inequality, while 13% feel present levels of economic inequality are insufficient.

All income groups share broadly similar opinions about economic inequality. 26% of middle-income Americans and 27% of upper-income Americans feel there is about the right level of economic inequality compared to just 17% in the lower-income bracket. Lower-income families are also more likely than those with higher incomes to say there is too little inequality.

41% of Republicans feel there is too much inequality compared to 78% of Democrats. Republicans are also much much more likely than Democrats to say the level of economic inequality is about right.

Lower-income Republicans are more likely to feel there is too much inequality than Republicans with higher incomes. Higher income Republicans are also more likely than those with lesser incomes to feel that the level of inequality is fair.

Democrats of all incomes groups feel there is too much economic inequality. This sentiment increases with income.

Most of those who view inequality as a problem call for significant changes to the economic system

67% of Americans feel the system needs overhauling to reduce this economic inequality. 14% say the system needs a complete rebuild while 19% feel minor changes would suffice.

Among those feeling there is too much inequality, 18% of lower-income Americans feel the system needs rebuilding compared to 13% in the middle-income bracket and 8% in the upper tier. The number calling for major changes is roughly the same across all income groups.

The majority of lower-income Republicans who feel there is too much inequality demand major changes to the system. While 36% of Republicans seeing too much inequality feel minor changes would suffice, only 11% of Democrats share this sentiment. 50% of Republicans feel major change is required while 74% of Democrats feel this to be the case.

Republican opinions on the level of work required to level out economic inequality also differ according to income. 63% of lower-income Republicans who feel there is too much inequality claim major changes are required to achieve this. Only 43% of Republicans in the upper-income bracket who feel the same way about inequality believe this. 14% of lower income Republicans claim the system needs a total rebuild.

There is more agreement regardless of income groups among Democrats than Republicans. That said, lower-income Democrats are more likely than middle-income and upper-income Democrats to call for a complete system rebuild.

Most who consider there is too much economic inequality feel some amount of inequality is acceptable

Across all income levels, majorities who feel there is too much inequality state that some amount of inequality is acceptable.

70% feel that some inequality is acceptable while 29% state that no amount is acceptable.

Upper-income Americans are more likely to say that inequality is acceptable than those with lower incomes. 40% of all lower-income Americans, by contrast, state that no level of economic inequality is acceptable.