Young Americans born after 1982 — known as Millennial Generation — care less about political participation, other people and saving the environment than previous generations, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.Researchers analysed 40 years of data of 9.2 million young adults from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study of high school seniors (conducted continuously since 1975) and the American Freshman survey by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (conducted since 1966).
Both surveys included items on civic and community involvement, life goals and concern for others.
The trove of information allowed researchers to draw comparisons between baby boomers (i.e. born between 1946 and 1961) that were surveyed between 1966 and 1978, members of Generation X (i.e. born between 1962 and 1981) surveyed between 1979 and 1999, and millennials surveyed between 2000 and 2009.
30-five per cent of millennials said it was important to keep up to date with political affairs, a decrease from 50 per cent for baby boomers and 39 per cent for Generation X.
A whopping 75 per cent of millennials said that being wealthy was very important to them, compared to 45 per cent of baby boomers and 70 per cent of Generation X.
Becoming involved in programs to clean up the environment— perceived as a badge of honour for millennials— decreased from 33 per cent for boomers to 20 per cent for millennials. In fact, three times as many millennials as baby boomers said that they made no personal effort to help the environment:
“Popular views of the millennial generation, born in the 1980s and 1990s, as more caring, community-oriented and politically engaged than previous generations are largely incorrect, particularly when compared to baby boomers and Generation X at the same age,” said the study’s lead author, Jean Twenge, PhD, in a press release. “These data show that recent generations are less likely to embrace community mindedness and are focusing more on money, image and fame.”
The authors noted that, all-in-all, millennials were less willing to participate in collective or personal change even in areas reported to be of special interest to them (such as the environment). The results of the study are consistent with a 2011 study that found only about 4 per cent of modern young people are genuinely civically and politically engaged.
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