I strongly agree that success, understood as a significant upward move on a valued status dimension, is largely a matter of luck. But I also strongly agree that hard work (in a society with decent institutions) usually brings a better life. It’s possible to work hard and achieve a better life without ever winning anything you’d count as success. So I haven’t a clue how I’d answer this question. Do I believe in meritocracy or not?He observes that there's also a much better explanation for the answers to that question than assuming a blindness or lack of care about inequality:
If one wants to see a meritocratic bent as a common cause of conservative leanings and higher happiness, here’s a less tendentious explanation. (1) Those with a greater sense of the efficacy of their behavior — with a greater sense of being in control — will tend to (a) think hard work brings a better life, (b) be happier, (c) see policies that seem to penalize hard work as unjust. (2) People likely to see high taxes as an unjust penalty on hard work tend to identify as “conservative.”And a further problem about attributing a blindness to inequality to conservatives is that conservatives give more to charity than liberals, as Wilkinson's commenter John Thacker points out (and I've previously observed at this blog). Thacker attributes the difference to religiosity; again, I've previously pointed out that he is apparently correct on this point (also see this post and the previous reference on conservatives vs. liberals), that the religious give far more to charity than the secular, even if you don't count donations to churches. (But apparently Christians are well-known in the service industry as lousy tippers.)
The same Napier and Jost paper is discussed at Marginal Revolution, where commenter DocMerlin points out that:
Another possible explanation is that liberals and the secular value truth over happiness, but it seems to me that the Napier and Jost paper is an example of trying to explain away an unpalatable truth. It's better to dig deeper to understand the causes of these differences before offering public policy prescriptions (or even arguments for what is individually better to do). Wilkinson, who has done extensive review of the literature on happiness and proposed public policy prescriptions, seems to me to have the better psychological explanation for the happiness difference in terms of sense of control over outcomes. That explanation also comports well with a charitability difference--if you don't feel that your contribution could make much difference, you're probably less likely to make a contribution.
A rather simple answer follows with (A) and (B) being true statements that result in the same statistics without the rediculious "conservatives are happy with evil" result that the study got.
A) Women are much more likely to self report depression and unhappiness than men are.
B) Men are more conservative than women.
A) Divorced/unmarried women are on average more liberal than married women
B) Married people are happier.
A) Conservatives are more likely to attend church regularly
B) People who attend church regularly are found to be happier and healthier than those who don't (on average).
A) Liberals feel guilty for their own success.
B) Conservatives don't feel guilty for their own success.