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Europe

149 questions to find out what young Europeans think

Are they hopeless, independent, devout, undecided, or happy? What do today's young adults want from life? A Europe-wide online project with questions ranging from sex to politics hopes to have the answer.

A majority of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 can imagine living a happy life without children, cars, a TV set, or God - but not without the Internet.

That's an

interim result

from the "Generation what" interactive online survey that was launched on April 11, and runs until November. More than 650,000 young adults from 31 European nations have participated in the unique survey so far.

The goal is to give young European adults the chance to paint a portrait of their generation.

Wishes, hopes and concerns

Sociologists devised the questionnaire with 149 questions ranging from family issues and sex to religion and politics. The survey is being coordinated by the Geneva-based European Broadcast Union (EBU), and official broadcasters in 12 EU countries are participating with their own web pages and questionnaires in their respective languages.

Everyone 16 and up can actually participate in the survey, according to the EBU's Thomas Grond, but sociologists are mainly interested in the core target group of 18-34.

In general, Grond told DW, he has the impression that young adults are rather positive about life.

But some of the results did come as a shock, the EBU's head of Young Audiences said. The question "Does society give you the opportunity to show what you are capable of?" showed a clear divide between northern and southern Europe, he said. "29 countries answered the question, there were 537,000 respondents - and 60 percent of Germans, for instance, said yes, while 81 percent of participants from Italy said no." At 80 percent, Greek respondents had a similarly negative outlook.

So far, the survey has found that values held high for decades after WWII, including church on Sunday, family outings with the new car and the family watching TV programs together, seem to be losing significance Europe-wide. The Internet, on the other hand, is important. 52 percent of young Germans can't imagine life without it, but even more can't do without music and books, 88 percent and 71 percent respectively.

In Germany, about 80 percent of the target group can imagine a life without religion, and 52 percent say they could be happy without children. In Italy, even 76 percent of the respondents said they could imagine a happy life without kids.

A majority of of respondents In France (56 percent) don't agree with Muslim women wearing headscarves at work or in public, while it only annoyed 39 percent of Germans. They, on the other hand, are less tolerant of men who wolf whistle and those who wear sagging pants that reveal their underwear.

Finally, the "Generation What" survey also invites participants to sum up their generation in just one catchy word. Among the many suggestions, "Y" - the term has been around for a while, and most researchers use it to refer to birth years ranging from the early 1980s to around 2000 - topped the list with 219 entries, 164 people came up with "lost", 74 offered "of degeneracy"; "freedom " made it 56 times, while terms at the tail end of the list include "brainwashed" and "misguided".

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