Ms. Kuziemko, a professor at Princeton, and Mr. Norton, a professor at Harvard, argue that greater opposition to redistributive policies may actually be a predictable reaction to having slipped in the distribution oneself:
People exhibit a fundamental loathing for being near or in last place — what we call “last place aversion.” This fear can lead people near the bottom of the income distribution to oppose redistribution because it might allow people at the very bottom to catch up with them or even leapfrog past them.This statement is based on a study of theirs based on survey data. The surveys found that people making just above the minimum wage are the most likely to oppose an increase in it."
I see this as a perverse extension of the "you too can be rich" thinking that Ronald Reagan exploited in getting his regressive tax agenda under way. It's also part and parcel of the "beggar thy neighbor" complex that arises in contractionary periods in international trade. I continue to be hopeful that humankind can effect a major evolutionary shift in thinking that will lead to greater equality and peaceful conflict resolution.