Last September, a SAYit survey covering a representative sample of n=1000 New Zealanders aged 18 years or over explored our attitudes towards inequality. One of the questions looked at whether New Zealanders believed children from low income families have the same opportunities as everyone else.
The actual question was:
Which of these statements best describe your views on whether children from low income families can succeed in New Zealand?:
A) Any child born in New Zealand can succeed through education and hard workB) Those born in lower income families can succeed but have much less chance than those born in better off familiesC) Children from lower income families have very little chance of success
Overall, 42% of us chose the first option - any child born in New Zealand can succeed. 53% felt that children from lower income families could still succeed but that it was much more difficult, while 5% thought that there was little chance of a child from a low income family being successful.
Of course, that question leaves open to judgment what 'success' actually means, but I imagine most New Zealanders would be picturing a 'successful' person as someone who has a job that they find worthwhile and that pays well enough for them to have a reasonably comfortable life. I imagine that, in this context, 'successful' does have financial connotations, even though I know that many of us would generally define 'success' much more broadly than that.