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October 9 2019

Cato Survey: Young Resent Rich More than Previous Generations

by Charlotte Hays

Young Americans under 30 are more likely to resent the rich than previous generations, according to Cato Institute’s 2019 Welfare, Work, and National Wealth Survey. That may help explain the popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders.

The under-thirties, according to the Cato survey, show “relative ambivalence toward capitalism and much greater support for socialism.” The younger you are the less likely you are to have a favorable view of capitalism:

Barely half of Americans under 45 have favorable views of capitalism compared to 58% of those ages 45–54, 65% of people ages 55–64, and 76% of seniors (ages 65+). In reverse fashion, 50% of Americans under 30 have favorable views of socialism, compared to 43% of those 30–44, and a third of Americans over age 45.

The young have absorbed the view that the rich became rich by exploiting others:

Young Americans are the only cohort in which a majority believe the wealthy didn’t earn their wealth. A slim majority (52%) of Americans under 30 say that “most” rich people in the United States got rich “by taking advantage of other people.” In contrast, a strong majority (72%) of seniors (65+) say that most wealthy people in America “earned their wealth” without exploiting people.

So, capitalism, which has actually lifted nations and individuals out of poverty, wins less approbation from the young than socialism, which has caused so much human suffering (Venezuela being but the latest example).

Remember when former President Obama said, "If you've got a business—you didn't build that"? Well, these young Americans believed him. And they are rarely exposed to the moral and economic arguments in favor of capitalism.

On the other hand, maybe they will grow up. The Cato report continues:  

Are young people today unique? Perhaps not. A General Social Survey conducted in 1978 found that Americans under 30 were also more supportive of wealth redistribution. At that time, Americans under 30 were the only age cohort in which a majority (54%) supported the government “reducing income differences between rich and poor” by “raising the taxes on wealthy families or by giving income assistance to the poor.” In contrast, only about a third (36%) of Americans 65 and over agreed.

These data suggest that Americans may change their minds as they get older about the rich and how much to tax them.

Read the report on the survey here.

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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