Periodic Reporting for period 1 - UnEquality (Understanding public beliefs about equality, inequality, and meritocracy)
Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2022-05-31
Through this project, we learned that the Dutch express some level of concern over wealth disparities and barriers to opportunity faced by children from low-income families. Participants in the study were less convinced that ethnic minorities face unequal opportunities. When asked to explain why people become rich or poor, participants pointed to hard work as the key factor explaining 'success' or 'failure'. As such, they expressed a strong belief that society functions like a meritocracy. A person's family resources or ethnic background were deemed less important factors. On the whole, then, the Dutch are ambivalent about the need for more income redistribution. Whereas many people do not think ethnic minorities face an uneven playing field, they do think that the government has a role in combating discrimination if and when it occurs.
Study participants who were provided with factual information about social inequality in the Netherlands became more concerned about economic disparities. They also came to see family resources and ethnic background as more important factors than participants who did not receive this information. As a result, informed participations became more supportive of income redistribution, felt more strongly that government needs to combat discrimination, and were less likely to blame ethnic disparities on minorities.