Majority of Americans feel class conflict

Two-thirds of Americans see conflict between the rich and poor, according to a recent Pew survey. Here's a look out from the back seat of a Rolls Royce.

The Pulse is down today on the realization that researchers even have to ask certain questions when gauging the temperature of the American populace.

A recent Pew survey of 2,048 American adults found that two-thirds of us see a profound conflict between the rich and poor. That’s a near 20 percent jump from 2009 when less than half of us felt tension between economic classes. The study also reported that more of us think the rich got wealthy by knowing the right people than did by working hard.

“Not only have perceptions of class conflict grown more prevalent; so, too, has the belief that these disputes are intense,” writes Pew Research Center senior editor Rich Morin. “According to the new survey, three in 10 Americans (30 percent) say there are “very strong conflicts” between poor people and rich people. That is double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009 and the largest share expressing this opinion since the question was first asked in 1987.”

And the conflicts Pew is tracking aren’t just about money. The study also found a 7 percent rise in perceived conflicts between immigrants and the native born.

As the chasm between America’s haves and have-nots grows wider, conflict is inevitable, but that we’re even tracking such sentiments is testament to how tough times have become for many Americans.

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.

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