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Becoming a Winner But Staying the Same: Identities and Consumption of Lottery Winners

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  • Bengt Larsson

Abstract

This article discusses how large lottery winnings are experienced and used by the winners. The study draws on a survey of 420 Swedish winners, which is analyzed against the background of previous research from the USA and Europe. The analyses show that winners are cautious about realizing any dreams of becoming someone else somewhere else. This result contradicts theories suggesting that identities are being liquefied by the commercially driven consumer culture in affluent Western societies. In contrast, the article concludes that winners generally try to stay much the same, but on a somewhat higher level of consumption. The critical situation that large winnings produce is generally met by an attempt to hold on to one's identity and social relations. In addition, the article shows that lump sum winners tend to save and invest large parts of their winnings, compared with winners of monthly installments who are more likely to spend on leisure and consumption. These results indicate that “wild” lump sums make winners “tame” their winnings more firmly, whereas “domesticated” monthly instalments can be spent more thoughtlessly without changing identity or becoming an unfortunate winner.

Suggested Citation

  • Bengt Larsson, 2011. "Becoming a Winner But Staying the Same: Identities and Consumption of Lottery Winners," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 187-209, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:70:y:2011:i:1:p:187-209
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1536-7150.2010.00768.x
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    4. Bowman, John H. & Bell, Michael E., 2008. "Distributional Consequences of Converting the Property Tax to a Land Value Tax: Replication and Extension of England and Zhao," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(4), pages 593-607, December.
    5. Oates, Wallace E. & Schwab, Robert M., 1997. "The Impact of Urban Land Taxation: The Pittsburgh Experience," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(1), pages 1-21, March.
    6. Jeffrey P. Cohen & Cletus C. Coughlin, 2005. "An introduction to two-rate taxation of land and buildings," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 359-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paredes, Dusan & Komarek, Timothy & Loveridge, Scott, 2015. "Income and employment effects of shale gas extraction windfalls: Evidence from the Marcellus region," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 112-120.
    2. David Cesarini & Erik Lindqvist & Matthew J. Notowidigdo & Robert Östling, 2017. "The Effect of Wealth on Individual and Household Labor Supply: Evidence from Swedish Lotteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(12), pages 3917-3946, December.

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