Personal Income and Attitudes toward Redistribution: A Study of Lottery Winners

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Abstract

In order to estimate the effects of affluence on political attitudes, we conducted interviews with 342 people who had won the lottery between 1983 and 2000 in an Eastern state. A parallel survey of the general public was also conducted. Comparing winners of varying amounts, we find that lottery-induced affluence increases hostility toward estate taxes, marginally increases hostility towards government redistribution, but has little effect on broader attitudes concerning economic stratification or the role of government as a provider of social insurance. These results bolster previous findings suggesting that economic self-interest influences policy preferences when policy consequences are perceived as salient. At the same time, the findings suggest the limited influence that material concerns have on one's broad political outlook.

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