The Cato 2019 Welfare, Work, and Wealth National Survey finds that Americans under 30 stand out from their parents and grandparents’ in their attitudes toward socialism, capitalism, and resentment toward the rich. These results may help explain the striking success of self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in capturing the support of the young.
Young Americans under age 30 stand out from their elders with their relative ambivalence toward capitalism and much greater support for socialism. Barely half of Americans under 45 have favorable views of capitalism compared to 58% of those ages 45–54, 65% of people ages 55–64, and 76% of seniors (ages 65+). In reverse fashion, 50% of Americans under 30 have favorable views of socialism, compared to 43% of those 30–44, and a third of Americans over age 45.
Young Americans are the only cohort in which a majority believe the wealthy didn’t earn their wealth. A slim majority (52%) of Americans under 30 say that “most” rich people in the United States got rich “by taking advantage of other people.” In contrast, a strong majority (72%) of seniors (65+) say that most wealthy people in America “earned their wealth” without exploiting people.