A growing number of Americans are losing faith in the United States’ capitalist economic system, according to the results of a recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.
“The idea that America is an opportunity society is a longstanding bedrock belief,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “But striking numbers of Americans, especially younger Americans, have become pessimistic about their prospects for economic mobility and doubt that hard work leads to success.”
According to the survey of religious Americans, the top four economic issues on Americans’ minds are the lack of jobs (26 percent), the budget deficit (17 percent), the rising cost of healthcare (18 percent) and the increasing gap between the rich and poor (15 percent).
About one in 10 said that the failure of the Nation’s Social Security system or the rising costs of education are the country’s most important economic problems.
The poll also indicates that Americans are pessimistic about upward economic mobility in America. Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they believed their generation is doing worse financially than their parents had, 16 percent reported being financially similar to their parents and 36 percent reported being better off. More than half (54 percent) of respondents said that the cards are stacked against ordinary Americans, and that hard work and determination are no guarantee of success.
The only generation in which a majority believe they are better off than their parents’ generation is the silent generation (ages 66-88), according to the survey. Baby boomers (ages 49-67) said they were better off than their parents 40 percent of the time. And younger Americans in generation X (ages 34-48) and millennials (ages 18-33) said they are worse off than their parents’ generation 51 and 58 percent of the time, respectively.
While two-thirds of respondents said that the Federal government is broken and likely to blame for many of the Nation’s economic problems, 63 percent believe that government could still legislate away the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the United States.
Similarly, 62 percent of people polled said it is the responsibility of government to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves; and 56 percent believe the government should guarantee health insurance for all citizens, even if it would require tax increases.