Wharton Students Not Having a Clue How Much the Average American Earns Sparks Jokes, Memes

Twitter users were quick to voice their opinions after a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Philadelphia tweeted about how much her students think the average American earns.

Nina Strohminger, professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton, tweeted on Wednesday night: "I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures. One of them thought it was $800k. Really not sure what to make of this (The real number is $45k)."

That tweet had been retweeted more than 9,600 times as of Thursday morning, and liked more than 56,000 times. There were 2,856 quote tweets of her statement too.

"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," Strohminger added, citing research that proved that hypothesis.

The viral tweet received a host of different reactions on social media, some angry, others humorous. Some people tweeted memes and photos in response.

Twitter user MyMomSaysImFunnyAndSmart wrote: "Not quite as crazy as it sounds. We don't do a good job adjusting for cost of living. 6 figures in an expensive city like Philadelphia is worth less than 45K in a lot of the country."

Nick Walker tweeted: "That's the average of who they know, which is why rich people usually don't feel rich."

Others used it as an opportunity to blame it on Wharton.

"I'm sorry, if you're in Wharton, I would expect you to be more educated on the US economy and overall society at large," Cassius wrote.

"Wharton School of Business did a study for the insurance industry around 2008 recommending that companies fire everyone over 40 and replace them with younger workers to cut costs. Not the brightest minds," added another Twitter user.

Another said: "Lacked a frame of reference: their friends' parents all made 6 figures after all...1 Wharton grad, our former President, thought people affected by the gov't shutdown he helped cause could simply "work something out" w/grocery stores for food. Had he ever gone to a grocery store?"

Ed Feasley responded by posting an image by the Wall Street Journal that analyzed the effects of Barack Obama's tax policies on American families ahead of the 2012 election.

It included profiles of a single parent with two children, a single person, a retired couple and a married couple with four children, each with salaries that were significantly above the national average. For example, it said a single parent with two children has a yearly income of $260,000, including $35,000 of investment income. The graphic said a retired couple had an income on $180,000 including an investment income of $52,000.

However, according to the Census Bureau, average household income in the United States was only $51,371 in 2012.

Meanwhile, another Twitter user, Greg Wilson, responded to Strohminger's tweet by saying: "We live in a Potemkin Economy where perception is warped by what has corporate sponsorship on TalkRadio, TV & online.

"Print news is dead, what's left are biz reporters, no labor reporters, which used to be a popular beat 50 yrs ago," before linking to a video about wealth inequality in America and imploring the professor to "maybe show your kids."

Dollars in a wallet
A file photo of a man with dollars in his wallet. Twitter users were quick to voice their opinion after a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Philadelphia tweeted about how much her students think the average American makes. Getty