The new survey, which was conducted July 16-26, 2012, among 2,508 adults nationwide, finds that a majority of the public (65%) thinks the nation’s income gap between rich and poor has grown in the past decade—and most say that’s a bad thing for the country. The survey also finds that the gap between rich and poor goes far beyond income. Adults who self-identify as being in the upper or upper-middle class are generally happier, healthier and more satisfied with their jobs than are those in the middle or lower classes. And they are much less likely to have suffered economic hardships as a result of the recession. In addition, those in the upper class are more satisfied than those in the middle or lower classes with their family life, their housing situation and their education. Upper-class Americans even report experiencing less stress. Only 29% of those in the upper class say they frequently experience stress, compared with 37% of those in the middle class and 58% of lower-class adults. When asked how much income it would take for a family to be considered wealthy in their area, most Americans say a family of four would need at least $100,000. Some 39% say they would need between $100,000 and $249,999, and 30% say it would take $250,000 or more. The median amount for all respondents was $150,000. The public estimates a family of four would need about half as much income ($70,000) to lead a middle-class lifestyle in their area. As would be expected, the responses vary significantly by region of the country, as well as by income and other demographic characteristics. (via Yes, the Rich Are Different | Pew Social & Demographic Trends)
Republicans and Democrats view the rich differently. A much higher share of Republicans (55%) than Democrats (33%) say, compared with the average person, rich people are more likely to be hardworking. Republicans are also more likely than Democrats to view rich people as more intelligent than average. Roughly half of Republicans (49%) say rich people are more likely to be intelligent. Only 38% of Democrats agree.