04/30/2008 - Who says Americans worship at the feet of the almighty dollar? Not the American public. Only 13% of adults say it's "very important" for them to be wealthy, ranking this personal priority far behind six others measured in a new survey by the Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends project.
But don't get Americans wrong -- a majority certainly wouldn't mind being rich. According to the survey, another 43% of adults say being wealthy is "somewhat important" to them, while the about same proportion say it's "not too important" (33%) or "not important at all" (10%).
These survey findings cannot answer whether most Americans genuinely place a medium-to-low value on wealth, or whether they accept the fact that they'll never be rich, or whether they're reluctant to admit that money matters a lot to them. But whatever the explanation, it's striking how few Americans rank being wealthy as a top priority in their lives.
Four times more people say "doing volunteer work or donating to charity" is a very important priority than say the same about being wealthy (52% vs. 13%). And about five times more Americans (67%) say it's very important to them to have enough free time, the top-rated value in this survey, which was conducted by telephone from Jan. 24 through Feb. 19, 2008 among a nationally representative sample of 2,413 adults.
Who most wants to be rich? Those who aren't, this survey suggests. Fully 22% of those with family incomes of less than $20,000 a year say it's "very important" for them to be wealthy. That's more than double the proportion of adults who earn $100,000 or more a year.
Read the complete findings Who Wants To Be Rich? on the Pew Research Center's Web site.