Americans believe in a fairer distribution of wealth

By staff writers
November 9, 2011

A strong majority (60 per cent) of Americans believe that their society would be better off if the distribution of wealth were more equal.

As the Occupy Wall Street and other protests againt unjust economics, nationally and globally, continue to galvanise media attention, a new major US national survey finds that majorities of every religious group and religiously unaffiliated Americans agree on this point.

However, there are large partisan, ethnic, and generational disagreements about the distribution of wealth in society.

The 2011 American Values Survey - a large annual survey conducted by Public Religion Research Institute exploring important issues at the intersection of religion, values and politics - highlights American attitudes on equal opportunity and inequality, the Mormon question in the 2012 election, and attitudes about the Obama presidency.

"We are witnessing the emergence of a generational fault line over what constitutes a good society," commented Dr Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. "Seven-in-ten of the Millennial generation believe that society would be better off if the distribution of wealth were more equal, while a majority of seniors disagree."

With the exception of Americans who identify with the right-wing Tea Party movement, Americans strongly support proposals to address economic inequality at both the top and bottom end of the income spectrum.

Seven-in-ten Americans, including majorities of all major religious groups as well as Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, support increasing the tax rate on Americans earning more than $1 million per year.

Two-thirds of Americans - again including majorities of all major religious groups and Democrats, Independents, and Republicans - also support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 per hour. Majorities of Americans who identify with the Tea Party oppose both proposals.

The survey also finds that Mitt Romney may continue to face difficulty with white evangelical Protestant voters, a key Republican constituency. Approximately four-in-ten Americans report they would be somewhat or very uncomfortable with a Mormon president; that number rises to nearly half (47 per cent) among white evangelical Protestant voters.

"Despite the considerable attention paid to Romney's Mormon faith, most Americans are still unaware of his religious identity, with one important exception: white evangelical Protestants have become significantly better informed about Romney's faith since mid-summer," said Daniel Cox, PRRI research director.

"Within this period, Romney's favorability among white evangelical Protestants has fallen significantly, from 63 per cent in late September to just 49 per cent currently," Cox added.


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