To More Americans, Class Matters

By Jordan Weinstein

Jan. 13, 2012

BOSTON — Class conflicts are on the minds of a growing number of Americans, according to a new study by Pew Research Center

Sixty-six percent of respondents told Pew they believe there is a conflict between different social classes in America -- an increase from two years ago, when 47 percent of respondents identified a conflict. Pew also surveyed Americans on perceived conflicts between immigrant and native-born Americans, old and young Americans, as well as blacks and whites. 

"Now more people believe there are class conflicts than other social group conflicts," Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, told WGBH News. 

Pew's report also noted that 46 percent of Americans believe the rich acquired their money because of status and birth, and 43 percent believe their wealth was created by hard work.

Taylor told WGBH News the Occupy Wall Street movement and a persistent downturned economy have been major factors in this shift in public perception about class. 

"It is clear," he said, "as we're entering the presidential year in earnest, that the issue of income inequality is going to be on the national table."

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