Study: 1 in 6 Favor 50% Tax Hike on Wealthy Even if It Means Less Money for the Poor

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | April 4, 2018 | 12:04 PM EDT

Study: Envy predicts desire to hurt rich at the expense of the poor. (Screenshot)

About one in six people support financially hurting the rich, even if it means hurting the poor, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study show. The reason: envy.

An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled, “Support for redistribution is shaped by compassion, envy, and self-interest, but not a taste for fairness,” explains that participants from the United States, India, and the United Kingdom were asked to choose between two options:

  1. “The wealthy pay an additional 10% in taxes, and the poor receive an additional sum of money,” or
  2. “The wealthy pay an additional 50% in taxes (i.e., a tax increment five times greater than in the first scenario), and the poor receive (only) one-half the additional amount that they receive in the first scenario.

“That is, higher taxes paid by the wealthy yielded relatively less money for the poor, and vice versa,” the paper says.

Approximately, one in six respondents said they’d prefer the second option, hiking taxes on the wealthy by 50% and giving less to the poor, the study found:

“Fourteen percent to 18% of the American, Indian, and British participants indicated a preference for the scenario featuring a higher tax rate for the wealthy even though it produced less money to help the poor.”

“Dispositional envy was the only reliable predictor,” the study found, noting:

“Envy, but not compassion, predicts a desire to tax the wealthy even when that costs the poor.”


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