Most Americans believe US wealth distribution unfair: poll

Updated: 2015-05-05 10:51


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WASHINGTON - Sixty-three percent of Americans believe that distribution of wealth in their country is unfair, despite the growing focus on inequality in recent years, a Gallup poll showed Monday.

These attitudes are substantially unchanged over the past 30 years as 60 percent of Americans held the same view back in 1984, Gallup said in a report on the April 9-12 survey. Only 31 percent said the distribution of money and wealth in the United States is fair.

Americans' views that money and wealth need to be more evenly distributed reached a high point of 68 percent in 2008, just before the recession. Americans became slightly less likely to agree with the idea in surveys conducted in 2009, 2011 and 2013, according to Gallup.

Americans' views on unfair distribution of money and wealth are closely correlated with their partisanship and ideology, as 86 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of liberals hold the view, compared to only 34 percent among Republicans and 42 percent among conservatives.

Income is also a factor affecting how Americans regard the money and wealth distribution in the country. Americans with annual household incomes of at least $75,000 (54 percent) are considerably less likely than those with incomes below $30,000 (74 percent) to agree that wealth is not evenly distributed, according to the poll.

Asked if the government should impose heavy taxes on the rich, 52 percent of Americans agreed with the idea in Gallup's most recent two surveys conducted in 2013 and last month. Forty-five percent of Americans said the government should not redistribute wealth by imposing heavy taxes on the rich.

Democrats are much more likely to believe that wealth is not evenly distributed in the United States than Republicans, which helps explain why inequality has been a major focus for President Barack Obama and a core part of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Although less than half of Republicans believe that wealth distribution is unfair, Republican presidential candidates have also begun to address the issue, most likely realizing that they need to court the votes from independents, Hispanics and other voter groups that could decide the 2016 election, Gallup said.