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  • rmacculloch

Labour Doesn't Believe in the Kiwi Dream. But Kiwis Do !

Yesterday the Nats proposed sending young offenders to military-style boot camps. Labour reacted with anger, slamming the proposal, arguing it would do nothing in terms of rehabilitation. So why do many places, like the US, feature these kinds of schemes?

The best explanation is that nations whose citizens believe success is due to hard work (rather than luck & connections) tend to view criminals as folks who chose not to take advantage of the opportunity around them, and instead rob those who were working hard to make an honest living. In the US, this belief is called the American Dream. Such a belief is associated with support for the harsh punishment of criminals, like prison & boot camp.

Is there a similar "Kiwi Dream"? Are our beliefs aligned with US beliefs in this respect? In the paper, "Free to Punish & the American Dream", on a scale from 1 to 10 (where bigger numbers reflect stronger beliefs that hard work brings success) Americans score between 7 and 7.5, a similar level to Kiwis (!) In France, the score is way lower, at just over 5.5. Moreover, around 60% of both Americans and Kiwis believe the poor are lazy. Here's the graph:



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