Seeing Poverty Doesn’t Lead to Sympathy
January 18, 2017 Taxation in USA
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has shown that exposure to poverty makes individuals less willing to support taxes on wealthy taxpayers.
The study was based on a set of controlled experiments where participants were asked to sign a petition calling for extra taxes on extremely wealthy individuals.
In the study the environment was controlled to vary the levels of poverty seen at the time that the participants were asked to sign the petition.
It was found that exposure to poverty resulted in a decreased willingness by participants to support increased taxes on the incomes and wealth of well-off individuals, despite the participants not being wealthy themselves.
The researchers behind the study believe that the results provide an insight that may be used by policymakers when considering the effects of advertising material used when proposing any wealth distribution measures or taxes to address income inequality.
As a possible explanation for the result of the study, it was suggested that seeing extreme poverty makes people feel comparatively wealthy, and, subsequently, effected by the proposed tax.
It was noted that the study was performed on a “once-off” basis, and it may be possible that repeated exposures to poverty and inequality would have different effects to the single instances of exposure.