They’re No Fools, Those Kids

It would be nice to think that innocent youth is unsullied by the money mania of the adult world. As with so many things that would be nice, though, this one is contradicted by the empirical data. In the latest Roper Youth Report, kids age 8-17 were asked what they fantasize about. The top answer, given by 56 percent, was “being rich.” That’s down from the 65 percent who gave this response in 1995. At the same time, the number who fantasize about “helping others” has risen from 26 percent in 1995 to 37 percent in the new survey. In its analysis of the data, Roper tries gamely to interpret these numbers as indicating “that the materialism of the late 20th century is giving way to altruism in the 21st century.” OK, but get back to me when the number of kids who daydream about helping others actually exceeds the number who fantasize about being rich. As the chart indicates, boys and girls are a retrograde lot, gravitating toward traditional gender roles despite all efforts by their enlightened elders to make them want the same things in life.Nathan Benn/Corbis