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|Winning the lottery makes you more conservative, study
|A sudden windfall
makes people less compassionate and 18% of winners immediately switched support
breaks or middle-class welfare. Rightwing political parties best chance
of rapidly winning over voters could be via the lottery, according to new
A joint Australian and British study has found that lottery
winners tend to switch their political allegiances to rightwing parties after
their windfalls. They also appear to become less egalitarian and less concerned
by the challenges faced by people on low incomes.
The research analysed more than 4,000 British
citizens who won up to £200,000 ($365,000) on the countrys national
lottery. Most of these wins were of relatively small amounts, with only 541
people winning over £500 ($910). In all, there were around 11,000
observations of winners, due to the fact that many people won money more than
Even among those who won small amounts of money, researchers
found a clear trend of lottery winners switching support from the Labour party,
traditionally a leftwing party, to the rightwing Conservatives.
Existing Conservative voters who won lottery money said their support
for the party had strengthened after the lucky break, while winners from all
political persuasions were more likely to say that ordinary people already had
a fair share of wealth, compared with before their win.
Nearly 18% of winners immediately switched support
to the Conservatives after their wins over the course of the study, which was
based on household panel surveys taken each year from 1996 to 2009.
Overall, 45% of people who won more than £500 on the lottery said
they supported rightwing parties, compared with 38% of non-winners throughout
the course of the studies.
The lurch to the right was more pronounced
for those who won large amounts of money and was more common among men than
Researchers from the University of Melbourne and the
University of Warwick said that studying lottery winners
isnt perfect due to unknown biases such as the personality
traits of people who play the lottery in the first place.
point out that more than 50% of the British population plays the lottery on a
regular basis. Data on how lottery wins correlate with political views has yet
to be gathered in Australia.
Professor Nattavudh Powdthavee, a report
co-author at the University of Melbourne, told Guardian Australia that the
researchers were studying whether political ideologies are driven by deeply
held ethical views or self-interest.
The amount won in the
lottery is completely randomised but we saw that the more you win, the more
right-leaning you become, he said. You are more likely to favour
rightwing ideas, such as lower taxation, and are less favourable to
The change was instant following the
lottery win. We could track it from year to year and saw there was almost no
lag time, particularly if there was a large win over £500.
The study claims to be the first of its type but it cites a US study
that shows a high degree of hostility among lottery winners towards certain
A separate American paper from 2012, conducted by researchers at
Berkeley University, found that the wealthier people become, the less
compassionate they are. Researchers found luxury car drivers were more likely
to cut off other drivers rather than wait for them at an intersection, while
rich people cared less than people on lower incomes about a person who had to
build a patio while suffering from cancer.