Millennials Move Away from Politics and Religion - NFP Report
13 March 2014 at 9:38 am
The Millennial generation (Gen Y) is forging a distinctive path into adulthood, according to new NFP research – they are relatively unattached to organised politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, in no rush to marry — and optimistic about the future.
That’s the findings of the latest research by the Pew Research Center in the US.
The study found that Millennials (now ranging in age from 18 to 33,) are also America’s most racially diverse generation.
The Pew Research Center surveys show that half of Millennials (50 per cent) now describe themselves as political independents and about three-in-ten (29 per cent) say they are not affiliated with any religion.
The study says that these are at or near the highest levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the quarter-century that the Pew Research Center has been polling on these topics.
At the same time, however, Millennials stand out for voting heavily Democratic and for liberal views on many political and social issues, ranging from a belief in an activist government to support for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalisation.
These findings are based on a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in February 2014 among 1,821 adults nationwide, including 617 Millennial adults, and analysis of other Pew Research Center surveys conducted between 1990 and 2014.
Millennials have also been keeping their distance from another core institution of society—marriage. Just 26 per cent of this generation is married. When they were the age that Millennials are now, 36 per cent of Generation X, 48 per cent of Baby Boomers and 65 per cent of the members of the Silent Generation were married.
The study describes Millennials as “digital natives” — the only generation for which these new technologies are not something they’ve had to adapt to and most are the most avid users.
For example, 81 per cent of Millennials are on Facebook, where their generation’s median friend count is 250, far higher than that of older age groups (these digital generation gaps have narrowed somewhat in recent years).
Millennials are also distinctive in how they place themselves at the center of self-created digital networks. Fully 55 per cent have posted a “selfie” on a social media site; no other generation is nearly as inclined to do this the study said.
Millennials are also the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations (Gen Xers and Boomers) had at the same stage of their life cycles.
The study found that their difficult economic circumstances in part reflect the impact of the Great Recession (2007-2009) and in part the longer-term effects of globalization and rapid technological change on the American workforce.
Millennials are also somewhat less likely than older adults to describe themselves as environmentalists—just 32 per cent say this describes them very well, compared with at least four-in-ten among all older generations.
On the other hand, the study found that they are far more likely to say they are supporters of gay rights—some 51 per cent do so, compared with 37 per cent of Gen Xers and about a third of older adults.