IGS Research Brief Sheds Light on Public Opinion of Income Inequality

Income inequality
August 17, 2015

Californians overwhelmingly agree that income inequality in the United States is growing, but there is far less agreement as to the causes or potential solutions, according to a review of IGS polling data.

Rising inequality of income and wealth in America have attracted substantial public attention in recent years. As evidence has mounted that the gap between the affluent and the poor has been increasing, elected officials, scholars, journalists, and even figures from popular culture have discussed the causes and effects of this phenomenon. Those who wish to reverse the trend have debated how best to do so.

Often, however, the focus of the public debate has been the actual economic trends, rather than the views of a broad sampling of Americans. But as with all issues, public opinion can condition policy responses, and it is important to measure broad public opinion on the status of economic inequality, its causes, and its potential remedies. It is especially important to measure how opinion on this issue divides along partisan lines, since the debate about inequality and possible policy responses so often touches on matters of partisan dispute.

This IGS Research Brief seeks to understand public opinion in California about this issue. It includes a description of other research and polling regarding income inequality, especially in California, and then describes and analyzes the results of an IGS Poll on income inequality, its perceived causes, and the views of Californians regarding possible responses.