Class, Empathy, and Taxes

Several recent studies by three University of California psychologists, Michael KrausPaul Piff, and Dacher Keltner, suggest that individuals with lower class incomes are more empathetic and more altruistic than individuals with higher class incomes. They argue that since lower income individuals have to rely more on others to survive, they learn pro-social behaviors and learn to emphasize with others.

The results of these studies may explain why some individuals with a great deal of disposable income (1) are unaware of the magnitude of income inequality in the US, (2) believe they should pay the same tax rate as lower income individuals, and (3) want to reduce government spending on social programs. These studies can also explain the results of a recent CNN poll that suggests that individuals making under 50K a year are more likely than individuals making 50K a year or more to want the government to keep taxes high "so the government can use their money for programs to help lower-income people". 


About Julie VanDusky-Allen

Julie VanDusky-Allen is at Boise State University and received her PhD in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2011. Her research focuses on institutional choice and development, political parties, the legislative process, and Latin American politics.

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