Why the exceptionalism? I think there are two dynamics at play. The first is what I call the two sides of the American dream. Data show that Americans see themselves as more upwardly mobile than people from other western countries, and are more likely to say hard work is essential for getting ahead in life. The second dynamic is Americans’ distrust of government, and in particular, their belief that government is inefficient. While Americans are the most likely to say income inequality in their country is unfair, fewer than half see this as the government’s responsibility to address. This compares with two-thirds or more in the UK, France and Germany. Where other societies see inequality as something that is done to people and must be tackled by helping them, Americans see it as something that people are responsible for themselves.
Related: ‘The Economy is Rigged’: Inequality Narratives, Fairness, and Support for Redistribution in Six Countries and Income Inequality in the United States: Using Tax Data to Measure Long-Term Trends and The Economics of Inequality in High-Wage Economies