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Americans differ sharply on causes of income inequality, study finds

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Americans disagree sharply about causes of income inequality
What's causing the growing income gap? Americans cite many factors
Your political beliefs affect how you think about income inequality

Americans agree that income inequality has widened in the last decade but disagree about what’s causing it, with their answers often diverging along political lines, according to a new study.

Democratic and Republican voters differ sharply on the underlying causes of inequality, with the survey's liberal-leaning respondents much likelier to blame tax policies that favor the rich, while their conservative-tilting counterparts point far more heavily to the work ethic of the poor.

“Ask people why the gap has grown, and their answers are all over the place,” said the analysis by Pew Research Center.

Tax loopholes, government policies and the lumbering job market all were cited to varying degrees by poll respondents.

But the poll also underscored the deep political chasms that are prevalent on many hot-button issues.

For example, 26% of Democratic respondents cited a tax system that favors the wealthy when asked the cause of income disparity. Only 14% of Republicans surveyed agreed. Meanwhile, 14% of Republicans in the poll blamed government policies. Only 8% of Democrats in the survey saw that as a cause.

One of the biggest points of disagreement revolved around the perceived work ethic of poor people and the effects of government assistance programs.

The twin causes were cited by 9% of Republican respondents. Fewer than 1% of their Democratic counterparts agreed.

One area of modest agreement between Democratic and Republican respondents: 5% of each cited greed as a factor.

Twitter: @LATwalter

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