A long-running study by Christchurch researchers has found that being raised in a poor family does not lead to increased rates of crime or mental health problems in later life.
The Christchurch Health and Development Study, by Otago University, has observed the development of about 990 people from birth over 30 years.
The study's leader, David Fergusson, says low income appears at first glance clearly associated with crime and mental health problems.
But he says poverty is also connected with a lack of parental care, and that is what seems to be the real culprit in these adverse effects.
Professor Fergusson says the study did show a link between the income of the child's family and his or her later educational success and earning power.