According to a new UC Berkeley study, “People in the lower socio-economic classes are more physiologically attuned to suffering, and quicker to express compassion than their more affluent counterparts. ‘It’s not that the upper classes are coldhearted,’ said UC Berkeley social psychologist Jennifer Stellar, lead author…’They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven’t had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives.’”
"It has not escaped the researchers’ attention that the findings come at a time of rising class tension, expressed in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Rather than widen the class divide, Stellar said she would like to see the findings promote understanding of different class cultures. For example, the findings suggest that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds may thrive better in cooperative settings than their upper-class counterparts."
More on empathy here.