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Poll: Rich Are More Optimistic, Greedier and More Dishonest

With an ever-present disparity between the haves and the have-nots in this country, many Americans view the rich as fundamentally different from themselves, according to a new poll.

The Pew Research Center found that Americans think the rich are more intelligent and hardworking than average workers, as well as greedier and less honest. The poll, conducted in July with 2,508 adults nationwide, found that 65 percent of Americans think the income gap between the rich and the poor has significantly grown in the past decade. Those individuals also said it’s a bad thing for the nation.

Financial Differences

In general, the research found that a $150,000 annual salary for a family of four is a marker for being rich. In the Northeast, that salary goes up to about $200,000 a year. In more rural areas, about $125,000 a year would make a family rich. Nationwide, the median household income is about $52,000.

The poll also found that nearly 60 percent of Americans are bitter about the tax burden on the poor, saying the wealthy don’t pay enough taxes. Only about 25 percent of Americans think the rich pay enough in taxes and only 8 percent said the wealthy pay too much.


Different Attitudes


Overall, members of America’s upper class are satisfied with their current financial standings. Of those in upper class, almost half said they were “very satisfied” with their financial situation.  By comparison, only about 32 percent of middle-class members and about 13 percent of the lower-class members said the same thing.


This has a lot to do with the lingering recession. About 42 percent of upper-class members said they are in better shape now than when the recession started in December 2007. About 34 percent said they’re in worse shape and 21 percent said their financial situation hasn’t changed.


Among members of the lower and middle classes, the outlook is dramatically different. About 32 percent of middle-class Americans said they’re better off now than before 2007, and about 42 percent of middle-class Americans said they are in worse financial shape than before the recession. In the lower class, only 24 percent said they’re better off now and 58 percent said they are worse off.


The poll further showed that the rich and middle classes are encouraged by the nation’s long-term economic outlook. About 57 percent of the rich and 55 percent of the middle class said they are very or somewhat optimistic about nation’s economic future. The poor, however, had a different view; only 38 percent said the country’s future is encouraging.


Although the recession officially ended three years ago, many Americans – both rich and poor – continue to feel the effects, the poll found. But the impact is smaller for the rich. Overall, about 23 percent of Americans have had problems paying their rent or mortgage in the past year; of the upper class, only seven percent fell into this category.

Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].


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    1. Bass, F. (2012, August 27). Americans Admire and Dislike the Rich: Pew Study. Bloomberg News. Retrieved from
    2. Korn, M. (2012, August 27). Majority of Americans Say the Rich Are Greedy and Dishonest: Pew Research Poll. Daily Ticker. Retrieved from
    4. Pew Research Center Publications (2012, August 27). Yes, the Rich Are Different. Retrieved from