Washington : A new study has revealed why everyone wants to help the sick, but not the unemployed.
New research from Aarhus BSS at Aarhus University explained why healthcare costs are running out of control, while costs to unemployment protection are kept in line. The answer is found deep in our psychology, where powerful intuitions lead us to view illness as the result of bad luck and worthy of help.
Illness and unemployment are two types of ordinary risks to which we are all exposed. But from a historical perspective, unemployment and illness represent two very different types of risks. Unemployment came about as a result of the industrialisation, while illness is something the human species has faced for millions of years. This difference is reflected in current-day political attitudes.
“People across countries are very positive towards the healthcare sector, but are not necessarily that inclined to give money to the unemployed. Why do people generally prefer helping the ill and not the unemployed?” This is the question posed by two professors in political science, Carsten Jensen and Michael Bang Petersen.
Using techniques to uncover people’s implicit intuitions, the researchers explored the fundamental differences behind our attitudes towards unemployment benefits and healthcare. According to the researchers, the differences may be found in the evolutionary history of our species.
“For millions of years, a need for health care reflected accidents such as broken legs or random infections. Evolution could therefore have built our psychology to think about illnesses in this way, as something we have no control over. People everywhere seem to have this deep-seated intuition that ill people are unfortunate and deserve to be helped,” Petersen explained.
He added, “When it comes to healthcare, everyone seem united in the belief that people who are ill are unlucky and need help. This means that the policies in the areas of health care and unemployment are very different, as we all more or less agree on the goal in healthcare, while we deeply disagree on whether or not unemployed people deserve help.”
Increased healthcare spending is often explained by the supply of health – i.e. the costs of new technology and medicine. But the researchers from Aarhus University argue that when it comes to the rising costs of healthcare, we are also dealing with demand. Politicians find it hard not to accommodate people’s demand for better healthcare, and no one wants to be seen as responsible for a health scandal.
The study appears in American Journal of Political Science. (ANI)