Since 1994, Pew has asked whether or not people agree with the statement that "most people who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard."
What have they found:
Among the general public, the shares are similar—63% say hard work pays off, while 34% say it does not necessarily lead to success. The Pew Research Center has asked this question 10 times since 1994, when 68% of the public agreed that hard work would pay off. The proportion saying so peaked in 1999, when roughly three-quarters (74%) expressed that view.
In other words, belief in the immutable value of hard work seems to be in part a cyclical phenomenon. The tighter the labor market, the more people believe that good old fashioned hard work pays off.