NZ named most ignorant developed country

A new report shows New Zealanders have the wrong idea about the world around us.

The Perils of Perception survey shows New Zealand is the most ignorant developed country, with most people misunderstanding the facts that make up our country's society.

The Ipsos-MORI poll showed inequality was one area where New Zealanders got it wrong. Kiwis hugely overestimated the proportion of wealth owned by the wealthiest 1 per cent in the country.

The average response on the percentage of wealth controlled by the wealthiest 1 per cent in New Zealand was 50 per cent. In reality, the wealthiest New Zealanders hold 18 per cent of the country's wealth.

Most of the other countries believed the wealthiest 1 per cent should own a smaller proportion of the country's wealth than they currently do, but New Zealand responded was opposite.

In contrast, when asked what percentage of wealth the wealthiest New Zealanders should hold, Kiwis answered 27 per cent, which is nearly 10 percentage points more than what they control currently.

New Zealanders underestimated the rate of obesity or overweight people in the country, guessing 47 per cent of the population was obese or overweight, when in fact 66 per cent fall into those categories.

Religion was another area where New Zealanders were off the mark. Asked how many people in 100 they believed did not affiliate with any religion, New Zealanders responded 49 people. In fact, 37 out of 100 people do not affiliate with any religion.

New Zealanders overestimated the number of migrants living in the country, saying they believed 37 per cent of the population are migrants. This was the third highest percentage answered to the question by any country. The correct answer was 25 per cent.

The most ignorant country was Mexico, followed by India and Brazil taking second and third place respectively. New Zealand was the most ignorant developed country in fifth place overall.

Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, said people were wrong about topics covered in the media and emphasised as challenges.

"Across all 33 countries in the study, each population gets a lot wrong. We are often most incorrect on factors that are widely discussed in the media or highlighted as challenges facing societies, such as the proportion of young adults still living at home, immigration and wealth inequality. We know from previous studies that this is partly because we over-estimate what we worry about - as well as worrying about the issues we think are widespread.

"But we do also underestimate some key challenges such as obesity. In many countries, we're maybe not as worried as we should be, given the extent to which our populations are overweight.

"We also get facts wrong that will make us focus on some issues more than they perhaps deserve: for example, we tend to think our populations are much older than they actually are, and that more people live in rural areas than is really the case.

"There are multiple reasons for these errors - from our struggle with simple maths and proportions, to media coverage of issues, to social psychology explanations of our mental shortcuts or biases."

Ipsos conducted 25,556 online interviews between October 1 - October 16 to get the result of the survey.

- by Sophie Ryan 


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