The Successful Canadian? Uh-Uh
CANADIANS HAVE TURNED their backs on the Affluent Dream. Success — that magic word — no longer means, as the Oxford Concise Dictionary would have it, the "attainment of wealth or fame or position”; to Canadians, it means trustworthiness, honesty, sincerity. Intelligence is a much more important clue to success than money, and a sense of humor is more necessary to it than faith in God or a job that pays a lot.
These startling findings come to light in the fourth Maclean’s - Goldfarb Report,
a study commissioned from Martin Goldfarb Consultants, one of Canada’s leading social - research firms. This study, based on a statistically reliable sample poll covering all the provinces, paints a portrait of a people reassuringly down to earth in their judgments and expectations, a people, as Martin Goldfarb says, "reclaiming traditional
values they don’t want to lose.”
Think for a moment of the standard portrait of success: the fat cat with a fancy home, a big car, a beautiful woman, wrapped in the reek of money. Vance Packard, in The Status Seekers, said it all through the mouth of a man he called "one of the big, active, successful people who pretty much run things.” This is what he said: "First, I’d say money is most important. In
. . . For Canadians success does NOT mean the big bank account, the mansion, the Caddy. Our national poll shows that this is the country where nice guys finish FIRST
fact nobody’s in this class if he doesn’t have money; but it isn’t money alone. You’ve got to have the right family connections, and you have got to behave yourself or you get popped out. And if you lose your money, you’re dropped. If you don’t have money, you’re just out.” The Status Seekers was published 11 years ago, and all of us — politicians, businessmen, advertisers, writers — turned its pronouncements into clichés, its guesses into gospel. “If anything emerged from the 1960s,” comments sociologist Goldfarb, "it was the Affluent Society. But when we look at Canadian attitudes today, that’s not what we see.” Canadians put money fifteenth in a list of 18 qualities that make for success — just ahead of good looks, having a handsome spouse, and athletic prowess. All of these attributes, Goldfarb suggests, are “the veneer of success, not the real thing, and Canadians know it. The qualities they look for are more solid — love, the ability to get along with people, openness — qualities connected with interpersonal relationships. The Canadian is saying that these relationships are more important than anything else.”
Even the old view of the righteous man, who went to church every Sunday and put his faith in God and the stock market, has been called into
serious question. Faith in God ranks twelfth with Canadians as a measure of success — on a par with a well-paying job. Why? “Churchgoing had a lot to do with being seen in church,” Goldfarb believes. “It was as much a social as a religious thing. We’re more honest about it today, and that shows up in our survey.”
What Canadians want, as one Vancouver contractor put it, is “a purpose in life, peace of mind, a reasonable amount of security, and reasonably good health.”
Reasonableness is the key; our expectations are geared to the possible, our hopes to the attainable. This reasonableness appears everywhere in Canada, among every discernible group. While the Goldfarb researchers found some rearranging of key qualities (English-speaking Quebeckers tend to rank love and ease in getting along with others relatively higher than other respondents; French Quebeckers place more emphasis on having an intelligent spouse; in the Maritimes, where highpaying jobs are rare, more importance is given to them and less to a good sense of humor; in self-confident British Columbia individuality ranks high) there was an unmistakable accord that cut across geographic, age, income and education lines on the fundamental importance of honesty, sincerity and trust.
As Goldfarb notes: “These are standards for guiding action to Canadians; they are the most important things in the development of a nation or a culture. Even our politicians have placed the emphasis in the wrong place; if they talk about honor and trust, they do so cynically; they put the real pressure on promises of bigger roads, fancier schools, more money. Well, Canadians are saying that there are other things more important, and our politicians aren’t reading them.”
This argues that some of the dominant figures in Canadian history — men such as Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mackenzie King—might be judged more harshly by today’s standards. Macdonald, after all, was embroiled in a malodorous railway scandal, Laurier was rightly known as “The Silver Fox,” King impaled his conscience on a wartime policy of "conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription.” The Goldfarb findings suggest that, to keep our sympathy and votes, today’s politician must tell us more, and more honestly, what he is up to.
Look carefully at the chart below and at the accompanying studies on the following pages; they contain some of the best news Canadians have had in a long time about the kind of people we are.
WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES THAT MAKE FOR SUCCESS?
TOTAL BRITISH QUEBEC QUEBEC
RANK OF IMPORTANCE RESPONDENTS COLUMBIA PRAIRIES ONTARIO ENGLISH FRENCH MARITIMES
Honesty 2 1 2 3 6 2 2
Sincerity 3 3 3 2 4 4 3
Intelligence 4 5 4 5 5 5 4
Love 5 4 6 4 2 7 6
Easy to get along with 6 7 7 7 3 6 9
Projection of self-confidence 7 9 5 6 7 9 9
Intelligent wife/husband 8 10 8 10 7 3 7
Good sense of humor 9 8 9 8 9 8 14
A feeling of individuality 10 6 10 9 10 16 12
Ability to sell oneself 11 12 11 13 11 12 13
A job that pays a lot 12 14 15 15 13 10 5
Faith in God 12 13 12 12 14 13 11
Having humility 14 11 14 11 12 14 15
Monev 15 15 13 14 15 11 8
Good looking 16 17 18 17 16 15 18
Beautiful wife/husband 17 18 17 16 17 17 17
Good athlete 18 16 16 18 18 18 16
A tide of modest expectations is flowing across Canada. When people were asked what kind of life they will be leading over the next five years, they set such reasonable standards as to suggest to sociologist Martin Goldfarb that “our politicians are off on an entirely wrong track. Prime Minister Trudeau keeps telling us that we want a lot of things we can’t afford, but it isn’t so. The average Canadian is not screaming for superhighways and shiny schools; he’s willing to settle for quite a bit less than our leaders think ... If you listen to some of the big unions, you get the idea that a fat wage packet is all that anybody wants, but this survey shows that a lot of the clamor is being made by a few people, while most of the population is very reserved in its expectations.”
For instance, Canadians expect to be living in a home costing an average $22,500 during the next five years; only 17% of respondents thought they would be living in housing worth more than $30,000. The expectations, in general, reflect regional differences in housing markets, with the lowest average price — $19,000 — fixed in the Maritimes. The exception was in British Columbia, where respondents set an average price of $27,400, the highest in Canada, and nearly $3,000 above Ontario’s $24,800 average. These figures are even more modest when compared to the real price of housing. While the Goldfarb respondents expect to be living in homes worth an average
$22,500 over the next half decade, the average sale price of Canadian houses in the first quarter of 1970 was $23,829, and in some markets, notably Toronto, prices average over $30,000 already. Perhaps Canadians generally have more optimism than housing experts that the shelter crisis can be brought under control.
Canadians are equally reserved in suggesting family income figures from now until 1975. The average expected income — $9,550 — is not really much higher, in constant dollars, than we enjoy today. The last detailed study by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics showed the average family income to be $7,600. That was in 1967, and the natural growth of the economy would carry that figure over $9,500 by 1975. In short, Canadian expectations are for very little change in the immediate future, a reflection, says Goldfarb, of an increasing emphasis on nonmaterial standards of accomplishment.
Again, when Canadians think about retirement, they do so in a markedly unambitious way. Eighteen percent said they would be satisfied with less than $10,000 in the bank on retirement and only 4% — most of them already in the higher income brackets — set a goal over $100,000. The average, nationally, came to $30,000. When Maclean’s consulted a trust company actuary about these figures, he noted: “If these people are talking about a lump sum on top of a pension plan, they are setting a very reasonable goal; but if the $30,000 average is in place of a pension, these people are in trouble; after all, that’s only three years’ income for a man earning $10,000. In any event, nobody could accuse us of shooting too high.”
Perhaps because we expect to live in such modest circumstances, Canadians are planning to keep their families small. Over the next five years, 74% of respondents said they expect to have no more children, and only 13% thought they would have two or more. A significant finding was that 50% of people now unmarried and 52% of those between the ages of 25 and 34 expect to have no more offspring before 1975.
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, IN WHAT PRICE RANGE OF H0MED0Y0U EXPECT TO BE LIVING?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS
Less than $15,000 19
$15,000 - $20,000 28
$20,000 - $30,000 29
$30,000 - $40,000 13
$40,000 - $50,000 3
$50,000 - $60,000 1
Average price: $22,500
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, IN WHAT RANGE DO YOU EXPECT YOUR FAMILY INCOMETO BE?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS
Less than $6,000 15
$6,000 - $8,000 19
$8,000 - $10,000 22
$10,000 - $12,000 17
Over $12,000 25
Average income: $9,550
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, HOW MANY MORECHILDREN DO YOU EXPECT TO HAVE?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS
Four or more 2
HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU FEEL YOU WOULD WANT TO HAVE IN THE BANK WHEN YOU RETIRE?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS
Less than $10,000 18
$10,000 - $20,000 29
$30,000 - $40,000 8
$40,000 - $50,000 9
$50,000 - $75,000 6
$75,000 - $100,000 4
Over $100,000 4
Were you expected to succeed?
Four out of five Canadians think their fathers were successful, and 84% of us were or are expected to make good by our parents. Although these figures reflect an apparent optimism, they also show, as Martin Goldfarb points out, “that one Canadian in every five is dissatisfied with the accomplishments of his father, and one out of every 10 kids today is expected by his own parent to be a failure.” The Goldfarb researchers found there was a much greater tendency (88%) of people under the age of 25 to regard their fathers as successful than in the over-55 age group, where the figure was 67%.
WAS YOUR FATHER A SUCCESS?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS YES NO
Would you say that your father is/was successful? 78 20
Does/did he consider himself to be a success? 74 22
Does/did your mother consider him a success? 81 17
Does/did he think that you are going to be
successful? 84 10
How do you compare with your neighbor?
When Canadians were asked to compare themselves with friends and neighbors, interesting results emerged. Almost half of the respondents think they are more successful than their parents, and about four in 10 feel they are equally successful, but people are hesitant to say they are either more or less successful than a next-door neighbor, a teacher or a best friend; in all cases, we tend to rank ourselves equally, or slightly behind by comparison.
HOW YOU COMPARE YOURSELF WITH ...
MORE LESS EQUALLY
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS SUCCESSFUL SUCCESSFUL SUCCESSFUL
A next-door neighbor 29 9 58
Their parents 46 14 39
A child’s or own teacher 19 22 45
A best friend 23 10 65
How hard does a successful man work?
Canadians believe that a man doesn’t have to work too hard to be successful. Half believe the man who succeeds does not work more than 40 hours a week; 40% believe he works between 40 and 50 hours, and only one in 10 believes more than 50 hours a week are required. Significantly, the higher the income and the greater the education of respondents, the more hours they think are required; 17% of those earning more than $12,000 a year think 50 to 60 hours a week are necessary, compared to 3% of those in the under$6,000 bracket; 61% of those who have not completed high school think fewer than 40 hours are enough, compared to 38% of those with university training. Just for the record, the average Canadian workweek came to exactly 40 hours in manufacturing industries last year.
HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK DOES A SUCCESSFUL MAN WORK?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS
Fewer than 30 4
30 - 40 49
40 - 50 36
The candlelight compliment
Going out to dinner is more than a pleasant ritual; it is a conspicuous symbol of success in the eyes of Canadians. Six out of 10 respondents feel the successful man takes his family out to dinner once a week, while only two out of 10 think he is too busy, or too mean, to take them out weekly. Curiously — and this may reflect the reaction of people who actually pick up the tab — there is less tendency among people in the higher income brackets to equate success and dining out; 26% of those whose annual earnings are $12,000 and over said the successful man does not act as host weekly, compared to 15% in the $8,000$10,000 salary range. In fact, dining out is becoming even
Sexcess is not excess
The measure of success in the movie cliché is, quite simply, sex. The conquering male draws women because he is a success; the aspiring female measures her success by the men she draws. Well, that’s not the way Canadians see it; to us the successful man is no sexual athlete. Of those who stated an opinion, more than half said the successful man had sex only once or twice a week, while only 3% thought he would have it more than five times. Men tend to rate their activities higher than do women (30% of males said three to five times a week, compared to 23% of females) and single people rate them higher than married folks (43% of single respondents set the frequency rate at three times or more a week, com-
more popular in Canada, and restaurant sales increased by about 50% between 1961 and 1969. According to Jack Hemmings, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Restaurant Association: “Most families with a total income of $10,000 and over eat out at least once a week.” The moral: make your reservations
HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK DOES A SUCCESSFUL MAN TAKE HIS FAMILY OUT TO DINNER?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS
Three times Four times None
pared to 28% of married respondents). A fairly high percentage of Ontario respondents (39) would not comment on this question, while the number was comparatively low in Quebec (22% among English - speaking Quebeckers, 17% among French). When all the figures were tabulated, the Goldfarb researchers came up with a sexual frequency of 2.7 times per week for the successful Canadian.
HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK DOES A SUCCESSFUL MAN HAVE SEX?
PERCENTAGE OF RESPONDENTS
Once or twice Three-five times Five-10 times 10-15 times Did Not State
success to you?
□ “Doing something well, being able to prove oneself.” (An elderly Vancouver housewife.)
□ “Security. Love of family and friends. Moderately good finances. Peace of mind.” (A young Vancouver lawyer.)
□ “To be happy in your home and work, the feeling you are achieving something in it. Contentment.” (A young Calgary engineer.)
□ “A type of fulfillment in my life. To do things I always wanted to do and to be with people that I would be happy with.” (A young lady bus driver in Edmonton.)
□ “A good life. A successful marriage and a family that treats you as a family.” (An elderly Regina housewife.)
□ “Happiness at home and at work. Enough money to take care of unexpected but necessary expenses.” (A young Winnipeg mechanic.)
□ “A job with self-satisfaction; enough money to satisfy your own and your family’s immediate requirements.” (A middleaged Toronto engineer.)
□ "Reaching the highest level you can in everything.” (A young Toronto salesman.)
□ “A comfortable home, a wife and children and a job that makes this possible.” (A middle-aged Kingston, Ont., foreman.)
□ “Success is to aim for a goal in life, to get it, and to do something worthwhile with it." (A young Montreal woman.)
□ “I don't want to ask anybody for anything, but on the other hand I would like to help somebody to become as successful as me.” (A middle-aged male department head in Montreal.)
□ “To have courage, ambition, and not to be scared of work.” (A French-Canadian farmer.)
□ “To do the best you can with everything you have got. It is more self-satisfaction than getting a lot of money.” (A French-speaking librarian in Montreal.)
□ "Bringing up our children well and being happy with our husbands.” (A middle-aged female Hydro Quebec worker in Quebec City.)
□ “Having enough to live on.” (A retired New Brunswick man.) □