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Do the rich work harder?

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

America has always been viewed as the land of opportunity, where hard work can result in financial success. While a new survey by Pew Research Center reveals that 60 percent of Americans still believe in that, the same percentage says the economic system is unfairly set up to favor the rich.

Click on the image to see average household incomes in 2012.

Click on the image to see average household incomes in 2012.

Only 38 percent of respondents believe being rich is the result of working harder than others, and half say people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control.

In addition, the growing gap between rich and poor, a topic recently debated and discussed by President Obama, Pope Francis and delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is not unnoticed by most Americans.

Nearly two-thirds, or 65 percent, of respondents believe the gap between the rich and everyone else has widened over the past 10 years. Bankrate examined data and found that, in fact, the income gap has been growing over the past 20 years. Read Bankrate's analysis of the widening income gap in the U.S.

How to reduce the income gap?

Overall, 54 percent of survey respondents say that the most effective way to reduce the income gap is to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and spend the money on programs for the poor. Thirty-five percent of respondents say lowering taxes on the wealthy is a more effective approach because it will encourage economic growth and investment.

The survey highlights the fact that while both Republicans and Democrats share the opinion that the income gap is growing, the difference between the two political parties is in how they believe it should be handled. Among Democrats, 90 percent think the government should do "a lot" or "some" to reduce the gap, while only 45 percent of Republicans think that.

The two parties also differ on the effect of government assistance on recipients. Among Democrats, 66 percent think poor people need government assistance in order to meet their basic needs so they can climb out of poverty. On the flip side, 65 percent of Republicans believe assistance programs result in recipients being too dependent on government aid.

Another hot political potato in the income gap discussions has been the debate over the minimum wage. As part of his plan to reduce income disparities, President Obama has championed an increase in the federal minimum wage. The survey shows most Americans agree with him, with 73 percent in favor of an increase from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

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January 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm

This just in........on the question of "Do the rich work harder", the Pew Research Center was astonished to find that 38% of survey respondents also reported being rich while half (50%) reported being poor.

In another amazing coincidence, on the question of "How to reduce the income gap", 54% of survey respondents also reported being poor while 35% reported being rich.

What is hilarious is the author is completely oblivious to why the numbers fell the way they did. That is why these polls are so useless. I could make the numbers fall 90% to 10% either way, depending on whether I conduct the survey in Beverly Hills or the L.A. ghetto. Anyone who tries to deduce anything from this poll is living proof that Americans are getting dumber by the minute.

January 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm

It's not always true that by working hard, you make more money. The money wasn't there for me to attend college after High School and I worked for many years in manufacturing. I worked my way up from the bottom rung to a Manager's position over the years by working hard and being conscientious at my job. Still, I doubt that I have made the salary or attained the positions that I could have if I had gotten a degree. People who have money have an advantage over those that don't. It's one extra step that doesn't need to be taken.

January 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Getting rich, like everything else in life, is all a matter of LUCK, pure and simple. Why do some people start out poor and get rich? Why do some people start out healthy, then get some catastrophic or debilitating illness or injury while others live healthy lives into their hundreds? Kate Middleton recently gave birth to a son who's already rich and doesn't even know it yet. And he has not, and probably will never "Work" a day in his entire life. So take it from someone who knows - Working hard will not make you rich. If you're not born rich, you'd better hope you're LUCKY!

January 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I agree stupid article. Headline asks "Do the rich work harder" but the body of the article has nothing to do with the headline. As for the rich working harder. I'm going to bet that not to many rich people work forty hour weeks. To be rich in this country in the uppper say 5% percent you probably need to make household income of 175,000 the vast majority of those are two income households. These people may not work "harder" but they probably bring more value to their employers than say a hamburger flipper.

I'm sure most Americans support raising the minimum wage to 10.10 an hour. Ask them how much they will eat out if it suddenly costs twenty percent more to do so. Or ask them if they support it knowing it will cost several hundred thousand jobs as companies automate their process. I guess they forgot to ask that right. Again a stupid, useless, biased

January 30, 2014 at 11:54 am

John, wake up and take a look at the REAL world. A lot of the poor cannot find a job! Making good money is all about WHO you know not WHAT you know. There is so much discrimination out there it is ridiculous. I graduated with my bachelor's degree when I was 32. I told by the placement office that I would have a hard time finding a job to meet my education. They were absolutely right. I have a bachelor's degree, and MBA and I'm a CPA. yet I have never been able to find a job that paid over $40,000 per year. I have applied for hundreds of jobs. No one wanted someone my age.
The poor do not have the opportunities the rich have. If I had that much trouble finding a decent job with my background how much of a chance do you think these people have. Get off your high horse and talk to some of these people. I have.

January 30, 2014 at 11:20 am

So lets see if I work hard I will get rich? Is it really that easy? There are plenty of people who work hard and will never get rich and everybody knows it. Do the majority of people who are rich work hard, I doubt it. Did working hard get them where they are sometimes? Most rich people either receive help from parents, got breaks at the right time, worked hard through much adversity or were at the right place at the right time. Lets not propose that all rich people worked hard and got there just because of hard work, is anyone really that stupid to believe this? I know many of my rich friends want everyone to believe this but it is not true. Luck is a huge part of the equation, hard work helps but is hardly mandatory.

January 30, 2014 at 10:40 am

I does not amaze me that Democrates think the Rich should pay more in taxes. This adminastration is all about Robin Hood Economics. steal from the rich and give it to the poor. The poor do nothing for themselves like better their education so they can get better jobs with better pay. They just want another handout from the FEDS financed by the wealthy. Furhter more with unemployment commpensation that the Dems want to extend once again only causes the unemployed to stop looking for work and become dependant on the FEDS. The longer they stay on unemployment Comp. they learn to live within the means of what they are getting thus living an existence of poverty. By cutting it off this forces them to take a job.

January 30, 2014 at 10:16 am

This article is ridiculous. The title is "Do the Rich Work Hard?" and yet the article says nothing about the level of work by the rich. It just quotes a bunch of opinion poll data.

It is obvious that of two people of the same ability in the same position, the one that works harder will be more successful. When it comes to money that means "rich." But if one person is smarter than the other or is in a better position, they are likely to not have to work as hard to achieve the same wealth. Andrew Carnagie was a smarter man that I when it comes to business. He should be rich. Bill Gates took a lot more risk than I. He should be rich.

Further, these rich people should be able to do with their money what they want. If they want to make someone else rich who doesn't work at all (e.g. their child or a quadriplegic) they should be able to do that.

Working hard is just one piece of the puzzle. Now, I need to get back to work.

January 30, 2014 at 10:09 am

The government does not turn a profit. They confiscate others profits/wages to operate. Companies that send jobs overseas or funnel money offshore do so LEGALLY. The government allows this. Any company(that wants to be in business) is going to use the law to their advantage. It's not wrong, it's the law. Social justice cannot be legislated, it's a pipe dream. The government can create a level playing field and get out of the way but then there is the concern for campaign money. If a company board realizes a savings of 600 million, they(and you!!) would gladly pay a CEO 60 million to make it happen. It cost 300+ million for a candidate to get in a Presidential race. For a 200,000 a yr job ? It's not Dems/GOP, it is government too big for our pocketbook. 20 trillion spent starting in the 60's on the war to end poverty with around 60+ cents of every dollar going in the pocket of government workers in that so called effort. How's that working for us?

January 30, 2014 at 10:03 am

The only way to raise wages without raising cost would be through tax breaks to offset company cost.This would temporary increase spending and create a boom.The end would be the same.The cost of things would out pace the wages in the long run.The only way to keep pace is to own stocks.