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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Harvard: “Top One Percent” Income Bracket Has Dramatically Different Life Satisfaction Than Middle- and Lower-income Adults

According to a new National Public Radio (NPR)/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll, while only 4 percent of the top 1 percent highest income adults say they would struggle to pay off an unexpected $1,000 expense, 34 percent of middle-income adults and 67 percent of lower-income adults say they would have problems paying this amount (see Figure 1 below).

In addition, while only 8 percent of adults with the top 1 percent highest incomes say their families have experienced serious problems paying for medical bills, dental bills, or prescription drugs in the past few years, nearly half of middle-income adults (48 percent) and a majority of lower-income adults (57 percent) say this.

View the complete poll findings.

Findings from this poll show stark income differences in both the ability to handle financial setbacks and quality of life. While most adults in the top 1 percent highest income category (90 percent) say they are completely or very satisfied with their lives, fewer middle-income adults (66 percent) and lower-income adults (44 percent) say this. Only 9 percent of the top 1 percent highest income adults say they are very anxious about their future, compared to 19 percent of middle-income adults and 29 percent of lower-income adults.

This poll, “Life Experiences and Income Inequality in the United States,” was conducted among a national sample of 1,885 adults living in the United States.

“These findings reinforce national concerns about the impact of large-scale income inequality in the U.S. today,” said Dr. Robert J. Blendon, co-director of the survey and the Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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