I'm curious about how the tax system affects the reward center in the brain and how that influences the perception of happiness with one's life.
My hypothesis is that subject
A would make \$3500 a month doing something he/she loves in a city he/she likes, etc. The subject pays a 20% overall tax in order to receive the \$3500, so the actual value before tax would be \$4200. Subject
B makes the same amount of money, doing exactly the same in the same city, etc. What I'm interested in is in isolating the tax variable, so in this case Subject
B would pay 50% tax (that would make it $7000 before tax).
So both subjects have the same life-style and make the same amount of money, but what I'm guessing is that
A feels more rewarded than
B, and if so, Subject
B would feel more entitled to pursue more money (reward) because he feels that the reward is lower than what he should be getting. By pursuing this extra reward then, Subject
B would fall into the trap of constantly struggling to feel rewarded (because of the high tax value marked on his payslip and this alone). On the other hand, to prove that Subject
A was "happier", we could actually launch a second hypothesis where
A would make \$3000 and
B the same \$3500, and
A would again feel more rewarded because of the lower tax rate he paid to get his salary (20% on
A vs. 50% on
This in turn would open a bunch of other interesting questions, like how to navigate the thin, invisible line that might trigger minor/major complaints on people about the feeling of being happy with their salary/government.
My question then is: has this been studied in depth before (I imagine so), and if so, where can I read about it?