Sudden Wealth makes People Conservative and Less Egalitarian

Having money appears to make people more conservative in the attitudes and politics.  I think most writers will agree that this is something they've observed over time.  Now comes a study out of the UK that confirms this tendency, and explains why so many conservatives have money.  In the chicken and egg question of which comes first, money looks to be the answer.

I have to admit I know people of wealth who are quite liberal, and, I know people of very modest wealth who vote a straight conservative ticket.  However, based on this study, the dominant cause of a switch to a conservative bias is money.

Take a moment to read the survey, then think about the people you know.  And apply this result to the characters in your story.  Do you have a character who wins the lottery?  How does this effect them?  Conversely, do you have a wealthy character who loses all, and how does this effect their personality and world view.  Something to think about while crafting character.
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Lottery winners tend to switch towards support for a right-wing political party and to become less egalitarian, according to new research on UK data by Professor Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick and Professor Nattavudh Powdthavee of the London School of Economic and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne.

Their study, published as a new University of Warwick working paper under the title “Does Money Make People Right-Wing and Inegalitarian: A Longitudinal Study of Lottery Wins”, shows that the larger the win, the more people tilt to the right. The study uses information on thousands of people and on lottery wins up to 200,000 pounds sterling. The authors say it is the first research of its kind.

The authors believe their paper has wide implications for how democracy works. Professor Oswald said he had become doubtful of the view that morality was an objective choice. “In the voting booth, monetary self-interest casts a long shadow, despite people’s protestations that there are intellectual reasons for voting for low tax rates.”

“We are not sure exactly what goes on inside people’s brains”, said Nick Powdthavee, “but it seems that having money causes people to favor conservative right-wing ideas. Humans are creatures of flexible ethics.”

The authors believe their paper has wide implications for how democracy works. Professor Oswald said he had become doubtful of the view that morality was an objective choice. “In the voting booth, monetary self-interest casts a long shadow, despite people’s protestations that there are intellectual reasons for voting for low tax rates.”

The authors’ paper comments that: “The causes of people’s political attitudes are largely unknown. One possibility is that individuals’ attitudes towards politics and redistribution are motivated by deeply ethical view. Our study provides empirical evidence that voting choices are made out of self-interest.”

Using a nationally representative sample of lottery winners in the UK – the British Household Panel Survey – the researchers have been able to explore the observed longitudinal changes in political allegiance of the bigger winners to the smaller winners. The effect is also sizeable. Winning a few thousand pounds in the lottery has an effect on right-wingness that is just under half of completing a good standard of education (i.e. A-levels) at high school.

The lottery winning effect is far stronger for males than females. The authors are not sure why.  The study has nobody who wins millions and millions. “We’d certainly love to be able to track the views of the rare giant winners”, said Professor Oswald, “if any lottery company would like to work with our research team.”
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Story Source: Materials provided by University of Warwick. Andrew Oswald, Nattavudh Powdthavee. Does Money Make People Right-Wing and Inegalitarian: A Longitudinal Study of Lottery Wins. University of Warwick, February 2014

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