Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wait. What?

Study: Most Americans want wealth distribution similar to Sweden

92 percent prefer Swedish model to US model when given a choice

Americans generally underestimate the degree of income inequality in the United States, and if given a choice, would distribute wealth in a similar way to the social democracies of Scandinavia, a new study finds.

For decades, polls have shown that a plurality of Americans -- around 40 percent -- consider themselves conservative, while only around 20 percent self-identify as liberals. But a new study from two noted economists casts doubt on what values lie beneath those political labels.

According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden's model over that of the US.

What's more, the study's authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.


This is what I've been saying for years, and it's a point I've made on numerous comment threads. Ignore the labels. Focus on policy. Most Americans are too ill-informed to understand what "conservative" and "liberal" even mean. They just hear what the Rupert Murdoch noise machine keeps repeating so they go along. This study is a case in point. Harvard Business School and Duke University are both widely respected institutions, so a study like this would seem newsworthy, but you won't hear about it from the corporate "news" media.

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