Envy and status in politics

People will oppose policies that benefit themselves and their community if they think it will lower their within-group status.

In other words, even when a policy might make someone materially better off (by, say, improving their housing conditions), they are likely to oppose it if the government doing so for everyone in their community would harm their relative status position.

—Gwyneth McClendon quoted in the Washington Post: ‘Envy and status in politics


The worse off people are than their coethnic neighbors, the more supportive they are of greater redistribution (regardless of how personally costly this support is); the better off people are than their coethnic neighbors, the less supportive they are of redistribution.

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