Does winning the lottery change your political views?

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With tonight’s Superdraw winner expected to take home £77 million; the latest research on lottery winners has never been more relevant.

Lottery winners switch towards right-wing political views, and this money-to-right-leaning relationship is particularly strong for males, say researchers.

The research, Does Money Make People Right-Wing and Inegalitarian? A Longitudinal Study of Lottery Winnershttps was conducted by Nattavudh Powdthavee & Andrew J. Oswald. They used British Household Panel Survey data from 1996-2009 to observe people’s political views before and after a win.

More money won, more right-wing

The general trend showed that the more money they won; the less egalitarian they became. The team also provided evidence that lottery winners are more sympathetic to the belief that ordinary people ‘already get a fair share of society’s wealth’.

“Winners are more likely to favor rightwing ideas, such as lower taxation, and are less favourable to redistributive policies,”
said Co-author of the study, Professor Nattavud Powdthavee

The formal study drew upon a nationally representative sample from the British population. Co-researcher, Andrew J. Oswald comments, “In the regression equations, we focused particularly upon a sub-sample of people (a fairly large proportion, given the lottery’s popularity in the UK) who have ever had a lottery win.

“Within this group, we were especially interested in the observed longitudinal changes in political allegiance of the bigger winners compared to the smaller winners. Our key information stemed from 541 observations on lottery wins larger than £500 and up to approximately £200,000.”

Key findings

  • Winners disproportionately lean to the right having previously not been right-wing supporters
  • Nearly 18% of winners immediately switched support to the Conservatives after their wins over the course of the study
  • For those who already supported the Conservative party, the win strengthened their views

Professor Powdthavee said the larger the win, the more people were tempted to vote conservative.

“Humans are creatures of flexible ethics,” he said. “So while we’re not sure exactly what goes on inside people’s brains it seems having money causes people to favour conservative, right-wing ideas. “

“Our study provides empirical evidence that voting choices are made out of self-interest.”

Related links

this news has been re-posted from the Understanding Society website