Poll: Young Americans Are More Likely to Resent the Rich

Poll: Young Americans Are More Likely to Resent the Rich

The Cato 2019 Welfare, Work, and Wealth National Survey finds that Americans under 30 stand out from their parents and grandparents’ in their attitudes toward socialism, capitalism, and resentment toward the rich. These results may help explain the striking success of self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in capturing the support of the young. Young Americans feel more resentment toward the rich. Emily Ekins writes on Cato Institute

Young Americans are the only cohort in which a majority believe the wealthy didn’t earn their wealth. A slim majority (52%) of Americans under 30 say that “most” rich people in the United States got rich “by taking advantage of other people.” In contrast, a strong majority (72%) of seniors (65+) say that most wealthy people in America “earned their wealth” without exploiting people.

Across the board, younger people are more likely than older people to hold negative attitudes toward the rich. Americans under 30 are about 20–35 points more likely than Americans age 65 and older to feel “angry” when they read or hear about rich people (44% vs. 11%), to feel more “resentment” than “admiration” of rich people (39% vs. 16%), to believe it’s “immoral” for society to allow people to become billionaires (39% vs. 13%), and to believe that citizens taking violent action against the rich is sometimes justified (35% vs. 10%). Young people are also about 10–25 points more likely than older people to believe billionaires are a threat to democracy (51% vs. 26%), to disagree that billionaires earned their wealth by creating value for others (39% vs. 26%), and to disagree that rich people make society better off by investing in new businesses that create jobs and invent technology (38% vs. 21%).

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