Survey Says: Getting Rich Isn't all About Hard Work

Survey Says: Getting Rich Isn't all About Hard Work

The rich are just getting richer, or at least in the eyes of the American public.

New findings from the Pew Research Center and USA Today show that 65% of respondents believe that the gap between the the 1% and the rest of the country has only widened over the past decade.

Of more than 1,500 people surveyed, many Americans credit—or blame—external factors for whether one ends up rich, poor or somewhere in between.

According to the survey, 51% of Americans believe "having greater advantages than others" is the reason some people have wealth while others do not. Meanwhile, 50% think "circumstances beyond an individual’s control" are at fault when people are struggling financially.

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But the notion that hard work is key to success isn't dead yet: While 60% of Americans believe "the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy," the same percentage believes that most people can still get ahead if they are willing to work hard. A substantial 38% of respondents think that wealth is a result of having worked harder than others, while 35% feel that people are in precarious financial positions because they didn't work hard enough.

So who should fix the problem of income inequality? The question is a thorny one, and, not surprisingly, opinion is divided along party lines: 90% of Democrats surveyed believe that the government should have some hand in narrowing the gap between rich and poor, but only 45% of Republicans feel the same way.

No matter how you think the economic deck is stacked (and whether you think hard work is enough to level the field), there's no reason not to start making progress today. Begin by gauging your financial health with the three numbers you need to know, then check on your spending in the free LearnVest Money Center. Then ask yourself: Where can I go from here?

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