Monday, February 15, 2010

The Lottery - a tax on the poor and could wreck your marriage

The news that a Gloucestershire couple have been rocketed into the Rich List by a Lottery win of £56 million prompts me to have a poke at finding out whether the Lottery is a tax on the poor.

An overview of European lottery research finds this:

manual workers spent more than twice as much on the lottery than non-manual workers. The study also demonstrated a link between higher spending on the lottery and poor social functioning, lower frequency of social support, and higher alcohol and cigarette consumption. Higher spending was associated with older age and manual social class, as noted in previous studies.

This is a brief indication, a straw in the wind, and I am not going to dive into an exhaustive literature review. That is a job for some sociology postgrad student. But the prima facie evidence here is that the Lottery is indeed a tax on the poor, so, assuming that it is politically unacceptable to terminate it with extreme prejudice, the distributed profits should at least go primarily to relieving poverty-stricken communities.

While on the subject, I thought I would have a look at lottery winner outcomes.
Google results:
Lottery Winner horror stories     338 k
Lottery Winner success stories   920 k
Lottery Winner leaves wife       21.6 million
Lottery Winner suicide             37.8 k
Lottery Winner's Curse              202k

Make of that what you will. Obviously reporting bias comes into the picture.
The "leaves wife" one is convincing, because a male winner will be beseiged with alluring gold diggers.
Here are some sad anecdotes about winners.

Provisional bottom line: - whether a win makes you happy or sad is a complete lottery. 


Anonymous said...

The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at maths.

I'm making a serious point, but also showing that I'm now a regular reader even if we disagree re. the TT :-)

DocRichard said...


Be careful! 5% of people waste an hour or more on this blog.

weggis said...

"5% of People" or 5% of visitors?

DocRichard said...

Visitors. People who do not visit the blog are safe at present levels of technology.