November 12, 2010

Wealth Distribution in America: Perception vs Reality

Last month Businessweek ran an interesting article, The Inequality Delusion,  talking about the wealth distribution in the USA.    Apparently Americans think that our wealth is spread around a lot more than it actually is.   A survey was conducted to ask people how much wealth they thought the top 20% of Americans held.  

"On average, those surveyed estimated that the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans own 59 percent of the nation's wealth; in reality the top quintile owns around 84 percent. The respondents further estimated that the poorest 20 percent own 3.7 percent, when in reality they own 0.1percent."

The graphic on the Businessweek site shows the difference between the survey, reality and what people think is ideal.

Wealth actually owned by 20% = 84%
Survey results what people think the top 20% owns = 59%
Survey results what people think the top 20% ought to own ideally = 32%

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