Americans Care About Economic Inequality

David Madland disproves conservatives’ claims that Americans aren’t concerned about economic fairness.

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Americans care deeply about our record-high levels of inequality and believe our economic system favors the wealthy. While some conservatives argue that Americans don’t care about economic inequality, a review of recent polling shows this claim to be utterly false. Moreover, Americans would prefer significantly less economic inequality than we currently have and think government should address the issue.

Americans are more concerned with equality of opportunity—97 percent of Americans think everyone in America should have equal opportunities to get ahead—than with equality of results. But as we show below, they are quite concerned about the level of inequality we currently have, and critically, Americans believe that high levels of inequality reduce the opportunity for people to get ahead.

To be sure, many Americans believe they will personally succeed in spite of inequality. But there is no doubt that Americans are deeply worried about economic inequality and the state of the middle class.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project