The Lottery and Its Effect on Quality of Life


A lottery is a system of allocating prizes by chance, usually for something limited but highly demanded. Examples include kindergarten placements at a reputable school or units in a subsidized housing block. The most popular type of lottery is one that dishes out cash prizes to paying participants. Lotteries are not just about winning a prize, but also about acquiring a status symbol. Some of these status symbols are expensive and can be a huge burden on the people who own them. In some cases, it has been observed that the wealth generated from winning a lottery may lead to an overall decline in quality of life.

In this story, the people in the village continue to practice The Lottery. However, the reason for keeping this tradition is unknown to the people in the story. The story is set in the context of the post-World War II era, when the nation’s prosperity allowed state governments to expand their array of services without burdening the middle class and working class with excessively high taxes. But, by the nineteen-sixties, inflation and the cost of the Vietnam War had pushed states to the limit of their resources.

To keep their social safety net running, many decided to turn to the lottery for additional funds. New Hampshire passed the first state-run lottery in 1964, and thirteen more followed in quick succession, all of them in the Northeast and Rust Belt. Cohen, who is a historian of gambling, sees the modern lottery as the product of a convergence of three forces: the growing awareness of all the money to be made in the game; state government’s inability to balance budgets by raising taxes or cutting programs; and the nationwide tax revolt that started with Proposition 13.