Trends in public opinion are in line with Obama’s agenda: The priority given to deficit reduction has slipped somewhat, while public support for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure has increased.
The share of Americans who live in middle-income households has held steady since 2010 – a flat trend that might actually be good news.
Income inequality will be a key topic of discussion for economic leaders meeting in Davos. Pew Research Center surveys also have shown that income inequality is a global cause for concern.
The gap between America’s upper-income and middle-income families has reached its highest level on record. In 2013, the median wealth of the nation’s upper-income families ($639,400) was nearly seven times the median wealth of middle-income families ($96,500).
The median wealth of white households was 13 times the wealth of black households and 10 times that of Hispanic households in 2013, compared with eight and nine times, respectively, in 2010.
People with a net worth of more than $1 million represent just 0.7% of the global population, but they have 41% of the world’s wealth. Meanwhile, those with a net worth of less than $10,000 represent 69% of the population, but just 3% of global wealth.
Growing economic inequality, increasing joblessness, global pollution and severe weather events are among the world’s most pressing threats experts say.
Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen addressed the issue of inequality in a speech last week, an issue on which there is a sharp partisan divide.
Our 2014 Global Attitudes survey in 44 countries asked which among five dangers was considered to be the “greatest threat to the world.” Many in the Middle East said religious and ethnic hatred was the greatest threat, while Europeans tended to choose inequality. Africans are more concerned with AIDS and other infectious diseases, while scattered countries, many with good reason, chose the spread of nuclear weapons or pollution and environmental problems as the top danger.
Publics across the globe see the threat of religious and ethnic violence as a growing threat to the world’s future, with concern especially strong in the Middle East.