America’s “sugar-coated Satan sandwich” … and why the poor will eat it – the Economist

The Economist muses over the apparent incongruous support of the poor for 2.4 trillion in spending cuts with no tax burden for the rich. It turns out the poor don’t support not taxing the rich because they might someday get to that bracket, but rather they don’t want redistribution to benefit those lower on the income ladder than themselves.


One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions. The authors ran a series of experiments where students were randomly allotted sums of money, separated by $1, and informed about the “income distribution” that resulted. They were then given another $2, which they could give either to the person directly above or below them in the distribution. In keeping with the notion of “last-place aversion”, the people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them: rewarding the “rich” but ensuring that someone remained poorer than themselves. Those not at risk of becoming the poorest did not seem to mind falling a notch in the distribution of income nearly as much.

Yup. As self-hating as the poor in the US might be, they hate those poorer than themselves even more. Facepalm. Head-desk.

via Don’t Look Down | The Economist

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