Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Are redistributionists more unpleasant people (on average)?

In this paper I expand and test the social dominance thesis using sixteen nationally representative General Social Surveys conducted by the National Opinion Research Center between 1980 and 2004. ...

I first show that respondents who express traditionally racist views (on segregation, interracial marriage, and inborn racial abilities) tend to support greater income redistribution. Traditional racists also tend to oppose free-market capitalism and its consequences, wanting the government to guarantee jobs for everyone and fix prices, wages, and profits. ...

[T]he preference against income redistribution... is not just the result of income or education...

[C]ompared to anti-redistributionists, strong redistributionists have about two to three times higher odds of reporting that in the prior seven days they were angry, mad at someone, outraged, sad, lonely, and had trouble shaking the blues... Not only do redistributionists report more anger, but they report that their anger lasts longer. When asked about the last time they were angry, strong redistributionists were more than twice as likely as strong opponents of leveling to admit that they responded to their anger by plotting revenge. Last, both redistributionists and anti-capitalists expressed lower overall happiness, less happy marriages, and lower satisfaction with their financial situations and with their jobs or housework. ...

[A]nti-redistributionists were generally more likely to report altruistic behavior. In particular, those who opposed more government redistribution of income were much more likely to donate money to charities, religious organizations, and political candidates. The one sort of altruistic behavior that the redistributionists were more likely to engage in was giving money to a homeless person on the street.
--James Lindgren, "What Drives Views on Government Redistribution and Anti-Capitalism: Envy or a Desire for Social Dominance?," Northwestern Law & Economics Research Paper No. 06-10. HT: Marginal Revolution

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