Sarah Ferguson: Can you trust people who used to be rich?

It’s hard being a Duchess without any taxpayer subsidy to fall back on. Just ask Sarah Ferguson, still a Duchess, but without a royal title since divorcing Prince Andrew, Duke of York. According to reports over the last year or so, Sarah has substantial debts and is verging on bankruptcy.

At the same time, reports of misdemeanors put the previous “toe-sucking scandal” in the shade. Last year, she was caught out selling access to Prince Andrew, presumably targeted towards people who find setting themselves up as dictators to be a bit of a hassle. This year, Sarah stated that she had made another “gigantic error of judgement” as more dodgy dealings were uncovered – this time involving taking cash from Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender.

It’s possible to feel slightly sorry for her. After living the high-life, she was perhaps not very well-prepared for a life of making her own way in the world. Throwing bread rolls around is not a very transferable skill.

A recent study by John Ermisch and Diego Gambetta investigates the trustworthiness of people with different income levels. Their main finding is that “given past income, higher current income increases trustworthiness and, given current income, higher past income reduces trustworthiness.”

In other words, people who have become richer tend to be more trustworthy – but people who have become poorer tend to be less trustworthy. They suggest that one factor is that people who used to be rich have higher expectations, which are less likely to be fulfilled by their current income – which affects how trustworthy they are likely to be.

It is often said that poor Sarah is a bit of an embarrassment to the Queen. Well here’s a solution: provide your former Duchesses with the life they have become accustomed to. (But please don’t take it out of my taxes).

The full paper is here: http://ftp.iza.org/dp5585.pdf

This entry was posted in Comment on the news, New research and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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