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Whatever your theory of justice and fairness, you’ll be fascinated by a study published last week in the journal Science . “Fairness and Development of Inequality Acceptance” found that younger children favor socialist impulses toward wealth distribution, but grow to accept a more meritocratic worldview as their cognitive abilities develop. Studying 500 children between the fifth and thirteenth grades, the study found that older children were more comfortable with differences in wealth owing to productivity and luck. The highest proportion of strict egalitarians was found among the fifth graders (63 percent) but had fallen to 40 percent by seventh grade and to 22 percent by thirteenth grade; similarly, the proportion of meritocrats rose from five percent in the fifth grade to 42 percent in the thirteenth grade.

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