Last-Place Aversion: Why America's Poor May Not Be as In Favor of Taxing The Rich as You'd Think
August 16, 2011 10:03 AM Subscribe
Poverty may be miserable. But being able to feel a bit better-off than someone else makes it a bit more bearable. Economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggest that people near the bottom end of financial inequity are less likely to be in favour of programs that will help increase their income if those programs will also help those lower on the scale than they are.
...the authors of the new paper argue that people don’t like to be at the bottom. One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions. The authors ran a series of experiments where students were randomly allotted sums of money, separated by $1, and informed about the “income distribution” that resulted. They were then given another $2, which they could give either to the person directly above or below them in the distribution. The people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them..This may also explain why Warren Buffet's cry to stop coddling the rich (previously) will continue to fall on deaf ears.
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