Americans Think the Rich Are Different

money, business secrets
  (Image credit:

Americans tend to think the rich are different from average people, branding them as more hardworking and intelligent, but also greedier and more dishonest, a new survey finds.

Most Americans (65 percent) think the income gap between rich and poor has grown in the past ten years and most believe that's a bad thing for the country, the Pew Research Center survey found. The majority (58 percent) also thinks the rich pay too little in taxes, while 26 percent think they pay their fair share and 8 percent think the wealthy pay too much, according to the poll.

But there is a partisan divide behind some of these views. Pew found that 55 percent of Republicans described the rich as hard-working, compared with 33 percent of Democrats. And 65 percent of Democrats think the rich are greedy, compared with 42 percent of Republicans.

When it comes to taxes, 78 percent of Democrats said the rich pay too little, compared with 33 percent of Republicans. Meanwhile, 44 percent of Republicans said the rich pay their fair share, in contrast with 13 percent of Democrats who said the same thing.

The poll found other factors besides income that set the rich apart. Americans who identified as upper-class in the survey were more likely to be satisfied with their family life, health, housing situation and education than their middle-class and lower-class counterparts, according to Pew.

With the presidential election coming up in November, politicians might want to take note of how the public perceives their treatment of the rich. About 63 percent of those surveyed said the Republican Party favors the wealthy over the middle class and poor, while 71 percent believe Mitt Romney's policies, if he became president, would be good for rich people. Fewer said the same about the Democratic Party (20 percent) and President Barack Obama in a second term (37 percent), according to Pew. Conversely, Americans are convinced Obama's policies would do more to help the poor (60 percent) and the middle class (50 percent) than the policies of Romney (31 percent and 40 percent, respectively).

The poll, conducted July 16-26, sampled 2,508 adults nationwide and had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.