If you were given £1 million, what would you spend it on?


What do you think a young person would do if they were given £1 million? Well, a good number of them would give much or all of it away, a study has found.

Involving 1,200 students aged 10 to 15, the study sought to establish how they would act if they suddenly had this amount of money.

Eight per cent of the young people said they would everything to charity, while a further 17 per cent said it would all go to family, friends and charity.

Another 25 per cent said they would give a “significant proportion” to charity, family and friends.

The research has been carried out by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods and its findings were presented last week at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference.

The research also revealed a notable difference between the sexes, with 58 per cent of girls saying they would give all or some of the money away compared to just 41 per cent of boys.

The students’ altruism peaked in year 8, with 53 per cent of 12 and 13-year-olds saying they would give money away, compared to 50 per cent in year 6 and 47 per cent in year 10. Among the causes to which they would give away money, the students cited refugees of conflicts such as Syria, families living in poverty, and family members who needed medical treatment. 

There were also those with slightly more optimistic, although thoroughly admirable, plans, including “give it to charity and make world peace” and “spend half of it on eradicating world hunger”.

Professor Sally Power of Cardiff University, who led the research, said: “We did not expect these high levels of altruism. I was particularly surprised by the numbers who said they would not just give some of the money away, but who were going to give it all away.

“The data indicate quite a strong sense of social justice, and the idea that giving to people in hardship, and alleviating the financial problems of parents, other family members and friends is particularly important to many young people.”

The paper also discovered its fair share of savers and spenders, who said they would not give the money away.

Alongside the expected hedonistic plans to spend the money, including fast cars, music careers, and big mansions, there were also those with very specific ideas, such as the student who responded: “I would buy a few horses and the land next to Justin Bieber’s house. On that land I would build a mansion in which me and Justin would live in for the rest of our lives.”

The paper adds: “What is it that leads some children to be predominantly ‘givers’, some to be ‘savers’ and others to be ‘spenders’? Exploring the social factors which contribute to these different dispositions must mean taking altruism seriously.”


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