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Most Americans Do Not Have a Strong Desire to Be Rich

Men have stronger desire than women to be rich

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A recent Gallup Panel survey asked a nationally representative sample of American adults for their attitudes about money and wealth. The poll finds that most Americans apparently do not have a strong desire to be rich, although half say making more money is a personal goal. The public tends to think that those who make a lot of money deserve it, but not to think that those who are poor deserve their lot in life. A majority also believes that anyone can get rich. Men, especially younger men, tend to desire to be rich more than women do. 

The Nov. 27-29 poll asked Americans whether they agreed or disagreed with each of nine statements about money and wealth.

For each of the following statements about money, please say whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree.  How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

Total
agree

Total
disagree

%

%

People who make lots of money deserve it

54

45

Almost anyone can get rich if they put their mind to it

53

46

Making more money is a major personal goal of yours

50

50

Money is the root of all evil

42

57

You would be happier if you were rich

37

60

You dream about getting rich

37

63

You barely have enough money to make ends meet

29

70

People who are poor deserve it

14

85

You have more money than you know what to do with

5

94

Half of those polled agreed that making more money is a major personal goal. Only a little more than a third, however, agree that they would be happier if they were rich or say they dream about getting rich. The relatively modest desire to be rich is probably not attributable to a sinister view of money -- 57% disagree that "money is the root of all evil." 

The public does not begrudge rich people -- a majority of Americans, 54%, say that those who make a lot of money deserve it. They also believe that almost anyone can get rich if they put their mind to it, by a 53% to 46% margin.

At the same time, Americans strongly reject the notion that those who are poor merit their situation -- only 14% agree and 85% disagree that "people who are poor deserve it."

When assessing their own situations, the vast majority of Americans fall in between the two extremes -- just 29% say that they "barely have enough money to make ends meet," but only 5% say they "have more money than they know what to do with."

Differences by Subgroup

Being rich seems to have more appeal to men than women, as the table indicates:Men are significantly more likely than women to say wealthy people deserve the money they make and that almost anyone can get rich if they try. Reflecting on their personal situations, men are more likely than women to say making more money is a major personal goal, and that they dream about getting rich and would be happier if they were rich. 

Younger men in particular report dreaming about getting rich -- 59% of men between the ages of 18 and 49 say this, compared with just 27% of men 50 and older. Thirty-five percent of women aged 18 to 49 and 23% of women 50 and older say they dream about getting rich. 

Being rich seems to have more appeal to men than women, as the table indicates:

Attitudes Toward Money, by Gender

 

Men


Women

%

%

People who make lots of money deserve it

61

47

Almost anyone can get rich if they put their mind to it

59

48

Making more money is a major personal goal of yours

57

44

You would be happier if you were rich

45

30

You dream about getting rich

45

30

People who are poor deserve it

19

9

 

 

Figures indicate the percentage who agree with the statement

There are not major differences by household income level when it comes to the idea of being rich. For example, 42% of lower-income respondents (residing in households in which the annual income is less than $35,000) say they would be happier if they were rich, the same percentage as respondents in higher-income households ($75,000 or more per year). Thirty-three percent of middle-income respondents (incomes between $35,000 and $75,000) say they would be happier if they were rich.

However, there are some money-related attitudes on which wealthier and less wealthy respondents' opinions diverge. Just 34% of people in upper-income households agree that money is the root of all evil, compared with 48% of those in middle-income households and 52% of those in lower-income households. 

Also, people with lesser economic means are actually less sympathetic to the plight of the poor than those with greater means. Twenty-three percent of lower-income respondents say that poor people deserve to be poor, a much higher percentage than found among middle- (12%) or upper-income (5%) respondents. 

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 27-29, 2006. Gallup panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

22. For each of the following statements about money, please say whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree.  How about – [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. You barely have enough money to make ends meet

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

10%

19

51

19

1

B. Money is the root of all evil

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

14%

28

43

14

1

C. You would be happier if you were rich

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

10%

27

48

12

2

D. People who make lots of money deserve it

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

9%

45

35

10

2

E. People who are poor deserve it

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

4%

10

48

37

1

F. Making more money is a major personal goal of yours

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

16%

34

39

11

1

G. You have more money than you know what to do with

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

1%

4

48

46

*

                                                                                                                     

H. You dream about getting rich

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

9%

28

47

16

*

I. Almost anyone can get rich if they put their mind to it

Strongly
agree


Agree


Disagree

Strongly
disagree

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Nov 27-29

12%

41

36

10

1

Gallup

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