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2022 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer: War and the economy drive desire for security
While those surveyed two years ago were focused on the pandemic and sociopolitical issues, this year's results show a clear trend toward primary concerns and the associated increased need for security. A majority of the respondents in all countries polled want to support Ukraine with humanitarian aid.
Without a doubt, 2022 has been heavily impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Young people around the world are concerned by the war in Europe, though not all to the same degree. "What's striking is that the younger generation’s confidence in the future has declined significantly, as shown by Credit Suisse's 2022 Youth Barometer. The results also revealed that geopolitical events are viewed quite differently in the countries we surveyed," says Manuel Rybach, Global Head of Public Policy and Regulatory Foresight at Credit Suisse.
Young Swiss people are least concerned
While in the US, Brazil, and Singapore, a clear majority said they were very or somewhat concerned about the war in Ukraine, this share was significantly lower in Switzerland, at 48%. The proportion of young people who are not very concerned was even higher, at 49% – although 61% of young Swiss people fear that the war could spread to other countries. In Brazil, this number rises to 81%. At 24%, the proportion of young people in Switzerland expressing understanding for Russia’s actions in Ukraine was lower than in any other country surveyed. The figure was 35% in Brazil and slightly higher in the US (42%) and Singapore (46%).
Humanitarian aid preferred over military aid
But how do young people in the individual countries view the political responses and actions of their own governments? Half of those in Switzerland were very or fairly satisfied with the country's policy for dealing with the new threat. Only 31% said they were dissatisfied. If we take a closer look at policy measures, we see that humanitarian aid is supported by a majority everywhere. In Switzerland, there were also majorities in favor of taking in war refugees (54%) and supporting peace initiatives by humanitarian organizations (57%). 44% of young people in Switzerland believe it is extremely/very important to remain neutral on Russia and Ukraine.
Gasoline prices now main worry
While the coronavirus pandemic was still the greatest or second greatest concern for young people in all the countries polled during the last survey in 2020, only one-third of young people in the US, Brazil, and Singapore now count the pandemic among their problems. In Switzerland, it has completely disappeared from the top five concerns. As was the case in 2020, the list of concerns among young people in Switzerland was topped by retirement provision (44%), followed by climate change (31%), and higher gasoline and oil prices (25%). The new top concerns in the US are crime and public safety (41%), which beat out the economic situation (36%), and gasoline and oil prices (32%). In the aftermath of recent events, concerns over gun control have also made their way into the top five (28%). Most young people in Brazil are troubled by corruption (56%), unemployment (47%), and the coronavirus crisis as well its consequences (34%). And in Singapore, 29% consider the issue of fake news to be the biggest problem, followed by data protection and the coronavirus crisis (both 28%).
Given the uncertain geopolitical situation and increasing polarization within society, criticism of politicians is also on the rise. A majority of young people in the US (54%) and Brazil (83%) "clearly" or "mostly" believe that democracy is in crisis in their country. In Switzerland (28%) and Singapore (41%), this proportion is significantly lower. Even in these countries, though, most young people feel that - outside their own country - democracies around the world are in crisis. However, most young people in Switzerland, Brazil, and Singapore still think that democracy is the only correct form of government for a good life. This is not the case in the US, where only 39% share this opinion. According to Cloé Jans, Head of Operations at gfs.bern: "The experience of recent years, and the results of this year's Credit Suisse Youth Barometer, indicate that democracy and shared values should not be taken for granted. They require investment in civic education, trust, and a shared culture of constructive debate and decision-making. Now is the time to make sure the next generation is on board."
Persistent trends in media use
The results of the Youth Barometer are less surprising in the area of media use: The rising trend of social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube that appeared in 2015 has gained further traction. In addition to using the internet, which is the overall leader (in every country), young people in Switzerland spend most time on YouTube and WhatsApp, followed by Instagram, which will likely overtake the trajectory of WhatsApp soon as a communication channel. Facebook's decline in Switzerland has accelerated further: Just 11% still spend at least one to two hours a day on the platform. In the other countries, Facebook has not been among the leaders for some time now, but it is still used by well over 30% of respondents every day. In the US, streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, now place second, followed by YouTube and TikTok. The latter has seen a notable rise, making it more popular than Instagram for the first time. WhatsApp is the second-most used platform in Brazil, followed by Instagram, YouTube, and streaming services. In Singapore, YouTube, WhatsApp, and streaming services continue to occupy the remaining top spots behind the internet.
Good bosses more important than working from home
If you ask young people about the most important qualities of an employer, the same trend can be seen in all four of the countries surveyed: A good boss and a good salary are among the three most important features. Tolerance and generosity toward employees are also very important, and, in Brazil, respondents place particular emphasis on the promotion of women. While team diversity and environmental friendliness are viewed as important by a majority everywhere, they tend to fall in the mid-range of priorities. In contrast to the current trend, issues such as working from home and flexible working hours – which have become increasingly important in recent years – are no longer top priorities among young people.
Overview: The most important insights from the 2022 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer
- Young people's awareness of problems is shifting: While the coronavirus pandemic was still the greatest or second greatest concern for young people in all the countries polled during the last survey in 2020, only around one-third of young people in the US, Brazil, and Singapore now count the pandemic among their problems. In Switzerland, it has completely disappeared from the top five concerns. Given the geopolitical situation, there is a visible trend toward primary and economic concerns in all the countries surveyed. By contrast, sociopolitical issues have faded slightly into the background.
- Commitment to the environment and gender equality down slightly: The proportion of young people speaking out for gender equality has declined in all the countries polled compared to 2020. It also appears that the trend of speaking up for environmental and climate protection, that began in 2015, has also been temporarily interrupted, except in Brazil. On average, though, 48% of young people in all four countries still feel they are part of the climate movement.
- Greatest concerns for young Swiss people: Although they are still decades away from drawing a pension, young people in Switzerland see the future of retirement provision as the biggest problem facing the country (44%), just as they did two years ago. It remains to be seen whether the latest referendum results will change this – but the pressure to reform retirement provision is likely to continue. The second greatest concern is climate change (31%), followed by higher gasoline and oil prices (25%), and energy security (22%). Gender equality is still a concern for 19%, while the coronavirus pandemic is no longer one of the top concerns for young people in Switzerland.
- Fear of war more pronounced outside Switzerland: While in the US, Brazil, and Singapore, a clear majority say they are worried about the war in Ukraine, this proportion is lower in Switzerland, at 48%. In all four countries, a clear majority of young people are afraid the war could spread to other countries. Just under one-fourth (24%) of those surveyed in Switzerland said they understood Russia's actions in Ukraine. This proportion was much higher in Brazil (35%), the US (42%), and Singapore (46%).
- Humanitarian aid preferred: In assessing political, humanitarian, and military actions to end the war in Ukraine, young people in all four countries prefer humanitarian measures. They believe Ukraine should primarily receive humanitarian assistance in the country itself and support from peace initiatives by humanitarian organizations. A majority of young people in Switzerland and Brazil are in favor of taking in Ukrainian refugees, which is not the case in the US and Singapore.
- Democracy under pressure: Most young people in the US and Brazil "clearly" or "mostly" believe that democracy is in crisis in their country. In Switzerland and Singapore, this proportion is lower. It is noteworthy that just 39% of young people in the US think that democracy is the only correct form of government for a good life.
- Pandemic measures in retrospect: In all the countries, young people have a balanced view of the measures taken to combat the pandemic: On a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = too much damage to the economy; 10 = too much damage to public health), the mean value everywhere is near 5, meaning that young people believe the effects on the economy and public health were balanced out. The restrictions on freedom were also rated as appropriate (with values between 4 and 6) in all countries.
- Optimism about the future trending down: The strong feeling of optimism and belief in a better future that characterized Generation Y have diminished significantly. Over the past decade, the proportion of young people who are confident about the future has trended down, with the figures for Singapore being the most stable. In Switzerland, just 44% of young people still say they are "reasonably confident" about their own future – compared to a figure of over 60% in 2018; meanwhile, the figures for the US (41%) and Singapore (43%) are even lower. Only in Brazil does the trend appear to be rising again – a slim majority of 51% now describe themselves as "more confident."
- Media trends continue: There are no major surprises in media use. The media's transition away from linear media and toward social networks continues. Social media, such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, as well as streaming services, have a dominant role. Facebook is the main loser – alongside print newspapers – particularly in Switzerland, where the platform has become less important. In the US, there has been a notable rise in the use of TikTok, where it became more popular than Instagram for the first time.
- Change in sense of belonging: The connection that young people have with their immediate social environment is deteriorating. While family and friends continue to be the greatest source of belonging for young people, their connection with their immediate social environment is declining in every country. Instead, they are increasingly identifying with more impersonal groups, such as society in their own country or on their own continent, or online communities.
- Good bosses more important than working from home: A good boss and a good salary are among an employer’s three most important features for young people in all surveyed countries. In contrast to the perceived trend, issues such as working from home and flexible hours are comparatively less important.
The Credit Suisse 2022 Youth Barometer – an internationally representative survey
What will shape the next generation, society, and the economy in the years to come? This question is of great interest to Credit Suisse. Through its Youth Barometer study, Credit Suisse aims to contribute to the public debate on the sociopolitically relevant topics that matter most to the younger generation. Compiled by research firm gfs.bern on behalf of Credit Suisse since 2010, the Youth Barometer is a representative survey of roughly 1,000 young people between 16 and 25 years of age in Switzerland, Brazil, the US, as well as (since 2013) Singapore. It provides insight into the lifestyles, problems, and attitudes of young people and takes account of the latest global events. The 2022 survey was conducted online in June and July.
The results of the Youth Barometer also reflect developments identified in the context of the Credit Suisse Supertrends. The "Millennials' values" Supertrend links to the study and shows how sustainable consumption, behavioral patterns, and digital apps are shaping the younger generation. Climate change – another Supertrend – is high on the agenda for many young people and is one of the drivers of this generation's greater political awareness. More information can be found at www.credit-suisse.com/supertrends.
The future of our young people and the promotion of young talent are important to Credit Suisse. Junior hires therefore receive specific training, mentoring, and career advice, aiding their transition to full-time employment. In the Swiss home market, where Credit Suisse is one of the country's biggest employers, there are opportunities for a large number of young people who are interested in starting a career in banking. A total of 1,052 graduates of various school levels benefited from a systematic training program in Switzerland in 2021.
The detailed analysis of the survey, including information graphics, can be found in German and English at www.credit-suisse.com/youthbarometer
Use the hashtag #youthbarometer to join the 2022 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer discussion on Twitter.