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Contrasting Views on Wealth and Poverty

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A Pew Research study shows sharp contrasts between Republicans and Democrats in attitudes toward wealth and poverty. By more than three-to-one, Republicans say hard work, rather than a person’s advantages, explains why people are rich. Among Democrats, only 29% agree about the value of hard work, while 60% say financial success comes from  “advantages in life.” In explaining poverty, re poor, 56% of Republicans cite “lack of effort” but only 19% of Democrats agree with them. Meanwhile, 32% of Republicans and a whopping 71% of Democrats blame “circumstances beyond their control.”

Surprisingly, ideology has more influence on attitudes toward wealth and poverty than does current economic status: nearly a third of low-income respondents admit “lack of effort” explains poverty, while 37% of high earners see their good fortune as based on undeserved “advantages in life.”  These surprising results suggest that our approaches toward rich and poor stem more from world-view and inclination, than from current standing or personal experience.

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