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Thursday, August 20, 2015

To Have and Have Not

Frank Newport writes at Gallup:
The majority of Americans, 58%, consider themselves to be "haves" in U.S. society, while 38% put themselves in the "have-not" group. The percentage of have-nots has more than doubled since 1988, but has been more stable in recent years. Meanwhile, the percentage of haves has held fairly constant, except for a single higher reading during the economic boom in 1998.
Americans' responses to this question provide a way of looking at inequality in U.S. society -- based on Americans' own perceptions of where they are socio-economically. The latest update is part of Gallup's 2015 Minority Rights and Relations poll, conducted June 15-July 10.
While all but 5% of Americans are willing to place themselves into a have or have-not category in the survey, more than half say they actually don't view the nation in these terms.
In the current survey, 54% of Americans say they do not think of U.S. society as being divided into groups of haves and have-nots, while 45% do. The percentage of Americans who consider society divided into these two groups has fluctuated over the years, but it was significantly lower in 1988 when Gallup first asked the question, and slightly lower, on average, from 1998 to 2004 than in the years since. The starkest contrast was in 1988, when 26% said that the nation was divided. In 2008, just as the Great Recession was taking a firm hold on the nation's economy, that percentage reached its all-time high of 49%.