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Survey evidence has revealed large differences in beliefs held by different cultures and ethnicities which may affect their economic prosperity. We study how the beliefs of New Zealand’s indigenous Māori about the causes of wealth or poverty and the extent to which people are responsible for their own fate differ from non-Māori using World Values Survey data from 1995 to 2011. Māori are more likely to believe that (1) the poor have been unfairly treated and are not lazy; (2) a better life is due to luck and not hard work; (3) the Government is doing too little for those in need; and (4) business should not be run solely by the owners, compared to non-Māori. We control for income, education and employment status, inter alia. The paper also compares differences between Māori and non-Māori within NZ to those between (non-indigenous) blacks and non-blacks within the US, as a benchmark. Stark results hold with respect to non-economic beliefs: whereas Māori are 8.6% more likely to believe that the environment should be given priority over economic growth compared to non-Māori, blacks are 20.5% less likely to hold this view compared to other Americans. Hence the evidence suggests that being indigenous plays a role in belief formation.


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