Inequality Series Part II: Tolerance for Inequality

We all know that the Scandinavian countries are famous for their social welfare programs.

Recently, there was a psychological study that sought to compare and contrast Norwegian and American values around fairness and luck (link below).

Findings:

  • Americans are more tolerant of inequality, even when it is due to pure bad luck.
  • Both nationalities are more tolerant of inequality due to differences in merit.
  • Both groups were willing to accept some societal costs in order to redistribute inequality-by-luck, but this is less true for Americans.

It has been shown empirically that most Americans believe wealth is possible for them to achieve, which could explain the tolerance of having it–even if it is by unfair means; an attitude of, “Good for you on your wealth, however it happened.”

At the same time, “Americans don’t believe that rich people are happier than they are,” which is why many choose to be happy with what they have.

As for government policies that work toward redistribution while costing money and reducing total wealth,“costs don’t seem to be Americans’ big hang-up with redistribution. Rather, their opposition seems to go to an underlying acceptance of fate and the fortunes it brings.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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