From the department of DUH:
Over the past two decades, a growing share of the public has come to the view that American society is divided into two groups, the "haves" and the "have-nots." Today, Americans are split evenly on the two-class question with as many saying the country is divided along economic lines as say this is not the case (48% each). In sharp contrast, in 1988, 71% rejected this notion, while just 26% saw a divided nation.It's attitudes and statistics like this which show that, if the market is God, then God is cruel, unthinking and inefficient.
Of equal importance, the number of Americans who see themselves among the "have-nots" of society has doubled over the past two decades, from 17% in 1988 to 34% today. In 1988, far more Americans said that, if they had to choose, they probably were among the "haves" (59%) than the "have-nots" (17%). Today, this gap is far narrower (45% "haves" vs. 34% "have-nots").
The increased prevalence of both views -- that the country is increasingly divided along economic lines and that a given individual is on the wrong side of that divide -- finds support in national economic data. As numerous studies have demonstrated in recent years, income gains over the last few decades have been heavily concentrated at the very top of the income distribution. For example, in an update of their earlier study of long-term U.S. income trends, economists Piketty and Saez compute that the share of income going to families in the top 1% of the income scale has doubled from 8% in 1980 to 16% in 2004 even excluding capital gains.