Some Wharton Business School Students Think the Average American Earns a 6-Figure Salary, Professor Says

Wharton School of Business
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.Wharton School of Business

A professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania asked her students a question and sparked a viral firestorm.

A university professor posed a seemingly innocuous question to her business students and was surprised by their answers. Some social media users were simply outraged.

Nina Strohminger, a legal studies and business law professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to know what her pupils thought was the average income of an American worker. Twenty-five percent said the salary was six figures, she said. One said $800,000.

“I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures,” Strohminger tweeted last week. "One of them thought it was $800k. Really not sure what to make of this (The real number is $45k).” 

A lot of folks made plenty of it. And a Twitter class war was on.

"Rich people have no understanding of economic reality," wrote one poster.

Wharton, a prestigious business school ranked No. 2 in the nation, estimates the first-year budget of its MBA program is more than $100,000, including room, board, books and fees. The average annual salary in the U.S. last year was $53,383, according to the Social Security Administration. 

"It tells me that these Wharton students grew up in privilege," wrote another Twitter user.

The instructor later wrote, "A lot of people want to conclude that this says something special about Wharton students — I’m not sure it does. People are notoriously bad at making this kind of estimate, thinking the gap between rich and poor is smaller than it is."

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