Gallup: Economy More Worrisome Than Wealth Gap

Friday, 16 Dec 2011 12:45 PM

By Dan Weil

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Americans are more concerned about the economy than the inequality in income between rich and poor, a new Gallup poll shows. The survey indicates that 94 percent of respondents see growing the economy as an important goal for the federal government, while 72 percent think it’s important for the government to help close the wealth gap.

On expanding the economy, 32 percent of respondents think it’s extremely important, 50 percent say it’s very important, and 12 percent say it’s somewhat important. As for shrinking the income disparity, 17 percent say it’s extremely important, 29 percent see it as very important, and 26 percent deem it as somewhat important.

Not surprisingly, there are splits between Democrats and Republicans over these issues. A total of 91 percent of Democrats think it’s extremely or very important for the government to grow the economy, compared with 71 percent of Republicans. That difference likely reflects Republicans’ faith in free markets.

As for reducing the wealth gap, 72 percent of Democrats say it’s extremely or very important, compared to 21 percent for Republicans. Again, Republicans’ belief in free markets probably accounts for the difference.

On another topic, 88 percent of respondents think it’s important for the government to increase the equality of opportunity for people to get ahead if they want to. A total of 29 percent think it’s extremely important, 41 percent view it as very important, and 18 percent see it as somewhat important.

One interesting finding in the poll was that 52 percent of respondents think it’s acceptable that some people in the United States are rich and others are poor, while 45 percent say it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

That’s a reversal from 1998, when 52 percent said it’s a problem that needs to be fixed, and 45 percent said it was acceptable. The change is surprising given that the inequality of wealth has widened over the past 13 years.



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