Sunday, September 16, 2012

They are the 1%

Since 1996, the Harris Poll has pretty regularly asked people if they agreed or disagreed with the statement:  "Most successful people on Wall Street deserve to make the kind of money they earn." The following figure shows the percent who agree (of those who express an opinion--an average of 5 or 6 percent say that they don't know).

  There's no sign that the Occupy Wall Street movement affected public opinion--the number who agreed rose slightly between 2011 and 2012.  As you might expect, the percent agreeing fell after the 2008 crash (and like the economy, recovery has been slow).  But the decline between the late 1990s and 2006 was just as big as the decline between 2006 and 2009 (the 2009 question was asked in February, when memories of the financial crisis were still fresh).  Maybe the bursting of the dot-com bubble was behind the change in the first years of the century, although I don't think that the average person was all that aware of it.  Or maybe it was just a response to general economic conditions:  when times were good, people didn't mind other people getting rich, but when growth slowed, they started to resent it.   


  1. The share who agree was falling after the dot-com (and overall stock market) bubble. I wonder if the increase in 2004-6 was a function of the housing bubble (where ordinary people thought they were extremely wealthy) and then saw their appraised home value plummet.

    On a side, I noticed the suicide rate for 45-65 year-olds steadily increased since the early 2000s. The Durkheim/Joe Friday title of the blog made me think of that.

  2. It would be interesting to break it down by income or class. I think that middle-class opinion would be influenced by the stock market or housing prices, but working-class opinion by unemployment and wage growth.