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Millennials uphold ideals

August 22, 2016

Despite concerns about corruption, climate change and missed opportunities for social and economic inclusion, young people remain optimistic about their future, a survey by the World Economic Forum has found.

Symbolbild Gruppe von Studenten
Image: Fotolia/Minerva Studio

Young people between the ages of 18 and 35 - generally referred to as "millennials" - view the world with cautious optimism and display progressive values, the Global Shapers Annual Survey 2016 has found.

Commissioned and presented by the Davos-based World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva on Monday, the study says that 70 percent of millennials see the world as being full of opportunities, with 50 percent being convinced they can actively contribute to decision-making in their countries.

Millennials also embrace new technologies, with a wary eye on their privacy and personal data, and see access to the internet as a key requirement for empowerment.

Ideals and concerns

In industrialized countries, young people between 18 and 35 have begun to edge out baby boomers as the largest living generation.

Among the 26,000 millennials polled by WEF across the world, more than a third of the respondents saw themselves as global citizens, while only 22 percent defined their identity by nationality. About 10 percent said they wouldn't define themselves by anything specific. The role of religion and ethnicity in personality-building mattered only to less than 10 percent.

What many millennials seem to share, however, is a concern for government accountability and corruption, which 57 percent described as serious issues affecting their country. Also a lack of economic opportunity, such as employment, and insufficient education systems are seen as clouding their prospects, with 34 and 30 percent naming these two spheres of life as threats to their individual prosperity.

Climate change and job security

For the world as a whole, the young generation expects the most serious challenges arising from climate change and large-scale military conflicts.

For their personal lives, they believe employment and education will change most fundamentally in the years ahead, with 55 percent citing keeping jobs skills up-to-date through continuous learning as their main career task.

A majority of men feel comfortable with having a woman as their boss or as chief executive and are not bothered by their wives earning more than they do.

Regarding institutions, millennials hold the biggest trust in their employers and international charity organizations such as the United Nations, with 37 percent and 32 percent respectively. National governments across the world are distrusted most, namely by 47 percent, and followed by the news media at the same level.

uhe/cjc (World Economic Forum)