Fear of Looking Rich Redux
By Bryan Caplan
A while back I questioned Robin Hanson’s view that virtually everyone wants to imitate the rich in order to raise their status. Robin recently told me that he’s “updated,” so I’ll stop calling it “Robin Hanson’s view.” But I still want to present another major counter-example:
Rich people stereotypically employ cleaning ladies and other household servants, right? Funny thing, though: Many, perhaps most, middle-class Americans are very uncomfortable imitating them. I know a number of highly-paid women who clean their own homes because they can’t bear the thought of outsourcing it to another person. And I know more who prefer to leave their own house when the help shows up for the sole purpose of avoiding the shame of relaxing while their servants tidy up.
If people wanted to look rich, they’d be hiring servants with gusto. But at least in the U.S., even the objectively affluent shy away from it. Most curious. Personally, if I ever hit the big time, my first major expense will be to hire a majordomo.