Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Millennials Opt for Meritocracy Over Egalitarian Society


Reason-Rupe has a new survey and report out on millennials—find the report here.

If millennials had to choose, 57 percent would rather live in a society where "wealth is distributed according to achievement" while 40 percent would prefer a "society where the gap between rich and poor is small regardless of achievement."

The World Values Survey has asked this same question on surveys across the globe, to measure people's preferences for a competitive/meritocratic society or an egalitarian society where incomes are more equal. American millennials are solidly in the competitive, meritocratic camp.

Economic conservatism is strongly tied to a preference for a competitive, meritocratic society and economic liberalism tied to preference for an egalitarian society. Economically conservative millennials, 79 percent prefer a competitive society, compared to 45 percent of strong economic liberals. Conversely, 53 percent of strong economic liberals prefer an egalitarian society compared to 20 percent of strong economic conservatives.

There are not many significant differences across demographic groups, but political groups do vary.

Egalitarian preferences correlate highly with attitudes toward government and the economic system. Egalitarian millennials say government should redistribute wealth (60%), say socialism is better than capitalism (51%), and prefer a larger government with more services (56%). Millennials who prefer a competitive/meritocratic system are essentially a mirror image, and say government does not have a responsibility to reduce income differences (59%), prefer capitalism over socialism (59%), and favor a smaller government (56%).

Conservatives (72%) and libertarians (83%) strongly favor a competitive/merit-based society, as do 57 percent of moderates, 49 percent of liberals, and 44 percent of progressives. Progressives and liberals are more likely to favor an egalitarian society, 54 and 50 percent respectively, as are 40 percent of moderates, 27 percent of conservatives, and 16 percent of libertarians.

Some may be tempted to dub millennials the "everybody gets a trophy generation." But ultimately, when push comes to shove, millennials opt for meritocracy over an egalitarian society. 

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To learn more about millennials, check out Reason-Rupe's new report.

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  1. Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial, Millennial.

    1. Now set those lyrics to some 140BPM beat and put some synthy doo-dads in there and you have got yourself a hit!

  2. When I got my first “everyone gets a trophy” trophy for T-ball my parents wasted no time to tell me that it was a meaningless trinket and pointless because we lost the game.

    1. Cudos to your parents for their honesty.

      I got some award along those lines once, the faculty was horified when I threw it in the trash on my way off the stage.

      1. *Standing ovation*

        That should become this generation’s distorted version of ‘dropping the mic’. Instead, after getting rewarded for mediocrity you ‘trash the trinket’.

    2. That seems like a pretty easy lesson to inculcate. “Remember when our [major-league franchise team of choice] lost to [their historical rival] last year? Well, how would you feel if they were rewarded for letting us down?” And so forth.

      1. Hopefully followed by “I don’t know, dad, I think they’d make pretty good pallbearers.” Then you’d high-five and he’d fetch you another can of Milwaukee’s Best.

        1. Beast?

          You would suck as a Dad. My hypothetical future kids are only getting craft.

      2. Would you be referring to that group of guys who make between $5 and $20 million a year regardless of whether they win or lose? That group?

  3. They haven’t shown this preference by their behvaiour.

    1. No, they have not. Not in the slightest given their (so far) unwavering support of every stripe of leftist.

      1. Really? Unwavering support of every stripe of leftist? Cripes get real they’re not that bad.

        1. You don’t remember them all crying about how they weren’t yet quite old enough to vote for Black Messiah? If White Woman Messiah weren’t a facsimile of a stereotypical neocon, they would all be lined up for her in 2016 too. But since she’s just a clone of Dick Cheney with a double XX chromosome, only 2/3s of the millenials will show up to vote for her.

  4. Is it another pollmagedon?

    1. No, it’s fluffier than that. Maybe just a pollcano.

    2. It’s certainly not an alt-textornado.

    3. Now if we just get Emily to drop by comments now and again like ENB, it would soften the blow of her blunt force statistical trauma…

  5. Egalitarianism is rule by special interests. Like your corporatocracy? Then you’ll love egalitarian socialism.

  6. “If millennials had to choose, 57 percent would rather live in a society where “wealth is distributed according to achievement”

    Wealth isn’t “distributed” in the first place.

    It is created and belongs to those who created it.

    It is as simple as that.

    1. Spoken like somebody who hasn’t paid his fair share.

    2. Yeah, that’s a good point.

      Meritocracy sounds good when you poll people but how do they determine that?* I’m pretty sure a lot of teachers (and I know a lot of college faculty) would argue that they “merit” a lot higher salary than what they are currently being paid.

      *I’m sure it’s in the poll data etc., but I’m too lazy to read it.

      1. Exactly. I know a lot of people with law degrees or graduate degrees in literature who think that achievement (the degree) should earn them more money. And many of them are the first people who rail about the injustice of some CEO being overpaid or whatever.

        The point is that Achievement is only half of the equation. You can still be a statist fuck who believes in a “Meritocracy”. The real question is WHO gets to decide the value of your achievement- you and some experts or the person getting ready to pay you?

        1. We need a committee of Top Men to rank everyone’s merits. Only then can we distribute wealth fairly.

    3. Yeah, they’re going to think *they* attained lots of achievements but others (like the Kochs) were rewarded for their inheritance or (like Bar Rafaeli) for being pretty, or for playing sports (ugh!) and it’s not fair they should have so much while talented people like them have so little!

  7. Who are those 17 percent of Libertarians that aren’t into meritocracy? Are they the Bill Maher “I’m actually a statist that likes to smoke pot crowd?” Are they folks that scored 94 percent on the purity test?

    1. Maybe it’s not about the merit? Maybe it’s about the freedom? The free market, a REAL free market, does not guarantee merit based wealth. The market is very Hobbesian, the only thing it cares about are your salesmanship skills. You could invent the cure for all cancer, but if you can’t sell it yourself, or sell it to someone who can, you don’t get rewarded for it. You could be the best employee ever, but if you can’t sell yourself in the job interview, you’re boned.

      1. But that IS the merit.

        1. Maybe that is true in a libertarian brutalist randtopia, but it sure isn’t to most people’s minds. Note that I am NOT advocating wealth redistribution in any form! I am merely pointing out that most people, including most libertarians in all likelihood, do not limit merit to mere salesmanship.

  8. when push comes to shove…”

    Fortunately “pushing and shoving” were banned from playgrounds when they were children, so they have no idea what these things are, and tend to curl into a ball and cry for mom if any when they encounter such aggressive behavior.

    1. I really don’t think the engendering of aggressive behavior in young children leads to optimal outcomes later in life.

      1. Being able to stand up for yourself in many different ways is not engendering aggressive behavior.

        Mexico is a good example. Most Mexicans are overly passive and gentle. Which means the 5% who aren’t get to run things with impunity. They take over a town with ease. Something that wouldn’t happen in Texas, for example.

  9. wealth is distributed according to achievement

    Isn’t that how people justify an estate tax?

  10. Millenials don’t actually know what any of these words mean, so they did the same thing they did on the SAT and just guessed at the answers.

  11. I would not be sure how to answer the question myself, because this article doesn’t (and the pollsters presumably didn’t) explain just what constitutes “achievment”.

    If it simply means economic success, regardless of whether achieved by making the best product or just having the best political connections, then a “yes” would mean supporting the system we have now. Anyone I’d call a libertarian would reject that idea.

    And being in one of the groups helped by “affirmative action” counts as having political connections.

    Then there are those who inherit plenty of wealth rather than earn it. Paris Hilton will never want for money. Is that merit? Not in my book. But no libertarian would want to take it away from her.

    1. Paris Hilton, from what I’ve read, is one of ‘those’ Hilton’s. but, she isn’t from a wealthy end of the family. She parlayed the family name into something and made a ton of money on her own.

  12. So what if Paris Hilton inherited her money? How does it affect you? Why should you have any say in her money, no matter how she comes by it (as long as it was legal).

  13. Paris Hilton earns A LOT of money on her own.

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