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Nattavudh (Nick) Powdthavee
Melbourne Institute
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Ryan Sheales
Media Office
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Lottery winners tend to switch their political allegiances towards right-wing political parties and become less egalitarian, joint UK-Australian research has found.

The study —“Does Money Make People Right-Wing and Inegalitarian: A Longitudinal Study of Lottery Wins”— was conducted by Professor Nattavudh Powdthavee (University of Melbourne) and Professor Andrew Oswald (University of Warwick), and released as a Warwick Working Paper.

The world-first research was based on a long-term study of thousands of UK citizens who won up to 200,000 pounds sterling in the lottery (AU$370,000).  

Professor Powdthavee said the larger the win, the more people were tempted to vote conservative.

“Humans are creatures of flexible ethics,” he said. “So while we’re not sure exactly what goes on inside people’s brains it seems having money causes people to favour conservative, right-wing ideas. “

“Our study provides empirical evidence that voting choices are made out of self-interest.”

Professor Oswald said he had become doubtful of the view that morality was an objective choice.

“In the voting booth, monetary self-interest casts a long shadow, despite people’s protestations that there are intellectual reasons for voting for low tax rates.” 

Using a nationally representative sample of lottery winners in the UK — the British Household Panel Survey — the researchers explored changes in the political allegiance of lottery winners, both big and small. 

The research showed winning even a few thousand pounds in the lottery had a measurable effect on “right-wingness", and that the effect was far stronger for males than females.

The study didn’t involve any individuals who hit the jackpot, winning vast amounts.

“We’d certainly love to be able to track the views of the rare giant winners," Professor Oswald said.

“If any lottery company would like to work with our research team.” 

(Main image courtesy Cimexus.)