Here’s proof that making money makes you more right-wing and less egalitarian

February 20, 2014

Win some money? You're now more likely to tilt conservative, according to a new study. (Michael Conroy/ Associated Press )

Some people have long thought, and a number of studies have showed, that rich people tend to be more conservative and less likely to support government policies that spread the wealth around. But one open question has been whether it's simply correlation or causation. Do people who are right-leaning tend to make more money? Or is it the money that makes the person more conservative?

Now, two researchers from the United Kingdom say they have proved that having money makes you more conservative and less egalitarian.

Nattavudh Powdthavee and Andrew J. Oswald studied the political opinions of people who won the lottery over time and found that the larger the lottery win, the more likely the winners are to adopt right-wing views and believe less in society's role in making sure ordinary people "get a fair share of society's wealth."

The study found that 13 percent of non-winners favor a more conservative party after playing the lottery but that 18 percent of people who won more than 500 pounds joined a right-wing party. The authors concluded that their study confirms what many economists had already suggested: that people's political choices are often motivated by self-interest. The data are represented in this chart:


Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.
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