The Movers of Tomorrow? Young adults in Europe have great concerns about the future
Many young Europeans expect society to become more unfair, unsafe, and divided. Eight out of ten now question whether their generation should have kids. This is one of the findings produced by the Allianz Foundation’s first engagement study, which surveyed 10,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 39 in Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom.
“Young people in Germany and Europe are in some kind of ‘waiting room for the future’.” This is the assessment of Esra Kücük, CEO of the Allianz Foundation. “At least two-thirds of those surveyed have already changed their everyday habits, for example by becoming more sustainable consumers. About half are ready to commit themselves even more to a fair and green future.” According to Kücük, this has huge potential. “But many are hesitant, often don’t know how to get involved. This is where policymakers and civil society are called upon to rebuild trust and create pathways into getting engaged.”
Low levels of trust in established institutions
The young generation is uncertain who will lead society into a safe, fair, and climate-friendly future. They do not trust the current leaders in politics, business and civil society to make the necessary changes. In Germany, less than one-third of respondents believe that their country will have significantly more forward-looking policies in the next ten years than it has today.
Prof. Dr. Klaus Hurrelmann, youth researcher and member of the study advisory board, on the needs of generations Z and Y: “The Allianz Foundation study shows that a considerable proportion of the young generation would like to take active political action. But they find today's political structures outdated and do not feel addressed by them. Conventional offers such as party membership are only attractive to very few of them. They want to provide direct input and desire flexible and personal forms of engagement.”
Optimism regarding climate protection
Despite pronounced fears about the future, Generations Z and Y are optimistic about climate protection. Almost two-thirds of young Europeans are confident that the fight against climate change can be won. 70 percent said that society should be open to welcoming people fleeing countries severely affected by climate change - an opinion shared by 60 percent of politically conservative respondents, too. Contrary to popular belief, young adults do not blame the baby boomer generation for the climate crisis. Only 9 percent think the older generation should do more to combat climate change. More than 80 percent believe that energy-intensive industries should bear a greater share of the costs.
What is important for young adults in Europe
As varied as the economic, political and social conditions are in Europe, young adults agree: Almost three-quarters of respondents consider a robust welfare state, stable prices and a strong social safety net to be the most important building blocks of a sustainable society. 52 percent believe that equal opportunities and climate and environmental protection are at least as important. Private assets and traditional values are less important to many: only around one third of young adults in Europe consider them to be very important – in Germany even just over one quarter.
Young people view themselves as part of the solution
Most of all, they are motivated above all by climate change. 68 percent of those who are concerned about global warming have already become civically engaged in some way, for example by making donations or signing online petitions. However, the study also shows that many want change and are interested in getting involved, but significantly fewer actually take action: 56 percent support protests in the streets, but only just under a third have ever demonstrated.