- (Photo: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)
A new poll by the Pew Research Center has found that although many Americans believe rich people are smart and work hard for their money, many also believe that the rich are greedy and dishonest.
What is more, 58 percent of respondents said they believe the rich pay too little when it comes to taxes, with only 8 percent stating that they think the rich pay too much. The observations noted that the majority, or 65 percent, believe that the divide between the rich and the poor in America had grown wider in the past 10 years, and described the perceived trend as bad for the country.
Still, 92 and 84 percent of self-described middle- and lower-class people respectively admitted to having respect for those who work hard to amass their fortune.
Not all agreed on a set definition of what makes a person financially rich, however. Thirty percent said that a family of four would need to be earning at least $100,000 a year to be considered rich; another 30 percent said that the figure should be between $100,000 and $249,999, while 30 said that it would have to be $250,000 or more.
On the other side of the equation, those who self-identified as rich, or upper class, reported to be experiencing less stress than other people. While 58 percent of the lower class and 37 percent of the middle class were under stress, only 29 percent of higher-class Americans admitted to frequently experiencing stress.
The Pew forum noted that author F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that the rich are "different from you and me," which was one of the main inspirations behind the study. Opinions found in the recent poll, which showed that 43 percent of respondents believe rich people to be more intelligent than the average American, may agree with that quote.
Although many respondents credited the rich for being hardworking and smart, many also had negative views on the wealthy. Fifty-five percent of respondents said the rich are more likely to be greedier than the average person, and about 34 percent said the rich are less likely to be honest – with another 50 percent saying they have no opinion on the question.
Differences of opinion were also clear among political lines – as many as 55 percent of Republicans believed the rich to be hardworking, while only 33 percent of Democrats agreed. Furthermore, 65 percent of Democrats accused the rich of being greedier than average Americans, with only 42 percent of GOP members agreeing.
Pew published a more detailed analysis of the findings on its website. The poll was conducted between July 16-26, 2012, and asked questions of 2,508 adults ages 18 and older.