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5 Facts about the Wealthiest 1 Percent

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Britany Lincicum
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« on: October 15, 2011, 07:21:02 pm »

FACT #5: Most Americans have no idea that the wealth distribution is as concentrated as it is, but regardless of their gender, age, income level or party affiliation, they believe wealth should be much more evenly distributed than they think it is.

In 2010, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School and behavioral economist Dan Ariely of Duke University surveyed 5,522 Americans about their views on the country's wealth distribution. They found that most respondents (regardless of their genders, ages, income levels and party affiliations) guessed that the top 20 percent of Americans hold about 60 percent of the wealth (rather than the 85 percent that they actually hold). Survey respondents also guessed that the bottom 40 percent hold between 8  and 10 percent of the wealth in the U.S. (rather than the 0.3 percent that they actually hold).

Perhaps even more striking than their misconceptions were their beliefs about the ideal wealth distribution. Survey respondents said that the ideal distribution would be one in which the top 20 percent owned between 30 and 40 percent of the total wealth, and that the bottom 40 percent should hold between 25 percent and 30 percent of the wealth — about 1,000 times more than the bottom 40 percent actually do hold. [Graph of actual, estimated and idea wealth distributions]

This article was provided by Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow us on Twitter @llmysteries, then join us on Facebook. Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover.

http://www.livescience.com/16518-5-facts-wealthiest-1-percent.html
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