Americans Want to Live in a More Equal Country

According to Dan Ariely, in the report on his and Mike Norton’s study, which appeared in The Atlantic in 2012, “93.5% of Democrats and 90.2% of Republicans preferred the more equal distribution.” Ariely and Norton also found that “the ideal distribution described by this representative sample of Americans was dramatically more equal than exists anywhere in the world, with 32% of wealth belonging to the wealthiest quintile down to 11% by the poorest.”

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Ariely’s article, “Americans Want to Live in a More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It),” points out the misalignment of the current economic reality and the desired economic ideal — and, in his opinion, the need for Americans to “see” that misalignment and work to reduce the income inequality gap by facing up to the challenge of closing it.

“Social justice and optimal wealth distribution are highly complex topics, and it’s hard to imagine that any study could dramatically change opinions about education, welfare, or tax reform. But consider this. When we ran the same basic experiment in Australia, we found Australians did not differ much from Americans in their views of the ideal distribution. When we ran another version of it with NPR listeners, and then readers of Forbes Magazine, the results were still basically the same. And most likely, if you participated in one of our tests, your response too would have fallen in line with these findings.

So whatever you think the current state of wealth distribution is, and whatever you believe the ideal level of wealth distribution to be under the veil of ignorance, there probably is a gap, and a large one, between the two. Awareness of the disparity between what we have and what we want implies that, ultimately, we as a society need to face the problem and find a solution.”

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