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2012 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer

The majority of young people are optimistic about their future – clear ideas about life and realistic goals

In view of the tense economic situation, the result of the 2012 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer comes as a surprise: The vast majority of young people in Switzerland, Brazil and the US are optimistic about their future. Overall, the 2012 Youth Barometer paints a picture of an optimistic hands-on generation that has a clear idea about life and sets itself realistic goals.

One striking insight across countries and cultures, whether in Brazil, the US or Switzerland is that in the face of the biggest economic crisis in generations, young people aged 16 to 25 are optimistic and ready to work. They want their own house or apartment, and yearn to be able to pursue their dreams and explore their talents. And they want a career that fulfills them. Friends and family are very important to them. Honesty and loyalty are crucial values. While in Switzerland a career comes in at the top of young people's hierarchy of values, what they desire most is a balance between leisure time and work.

Summary of the Ten Key Youth Barometer Findings:
1. Optimism: In spite of the global economic crisis, young people in all three countries exhibit considerable optimism. In Brazil 73% of young people view the future optimistically, while in Switzerland 66% and in the US 56% are optimistic.

2. Goals: Young people in both Switzerland and the US cite the realization of their dreams as their most important goal in life (86% and 79% respectively). A career and the purchase of a house or apartment are only ranked higher in Brazil (81% and 80% respectively).

3. Job: Over 51% of Swiss young people describe their present job as a dream job (Brazil 42%; US 32%).

4. Money: In all three countries, young people consider striving for wealth to be much less important than fulfillment in their personal and professional lives. Only 46% of young people in Switzerland say that they would like one day to have a lot of money (Brazil 64%; US 61%).

5. Debts: Young Americans have the highest level of debt; 42% of US young people say they have private debts (Brazil 28%; Switzerland 3%).

6. Politics: Generally, only a minority of young people in all three countries are politically active. In the US, 48% are very involved or somewhat involved politically (Brazil 44%; Switzerland 34%).

7. Government: Brazilian youth have the lowest level of confidence in their government: 57% of those surveyed have the impression that the politics of the government and administration often fail when it comes to important issues (US 51%; Switzerland 30%).

8. Communication: Despite the boom of social media, young people in the US and Switzerland still most prefer to communicate with their friends by SMS (61% and 73% of responses respectively). Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and the like are only the most popular forms of communication in Brazil (45%).

9. Information: Young people in Brazil and the US rely on electronic media to keep up with current affairs, be it the internet, television or social media (over 70% of responses in the US and around 60% in Brazil). Paper media only continue to play a major role for young people in Switzerland: free newspapers are the most popular source of information (77% of responses).

10. Concerns: As in prior years, Swiss young people mention issues involving foreigners and integration as the country's top problem. In Brazil, however, the issue of corruption is the most pressing concern, while in the US it is youth unemployment.

Summary of Switzerland: "Pitch in as long as the work-life balance is healthy"
For young people in Switzerland, the traditional middle-class concept of life is very attractive. Beliefs are developed within the immediate circle of family and close friends and values such as honesty, loyalty and tolerance are crucial. This attitude also exerts an impact on the young people's future planning: Having a family, good friends and their own home are the top priorities. Although a career plays an important role, only few young people are prepared to make everything else secondary. A career and public status are accorded considerably less importance than an interesting job and a good work-life balance. The result of a pragmatic outlook on careers with a generally greater willingness to work on the part of young people is a low level of unemployment when compared globally, which according to gfs.bern is supported by the dual system of education. Many young people are prepared to achieve their goals with hard work and only very few maintain a purely fun-oriented lifestyle. As in previous years, the three greatest concerns of Swiss young people remain foreigners and integration as well as retirement provision and unemployment.

Greatest Differences between the Countries
In Switzerland, traditional ideas carry more weight than ever before. The EU is losing some of its influence and a certain insouciance goes hand-in-hand with a perceived threat from abroad. Non-economic goals are often especially important in Switzerland and it must also be noted that Swiss young people somewhat lack the desire to take on more responsibility for society.

In Brazil, traditional values are omnipresent, and religion is considered important. Young people in Brazil are shaped by opportunities for social mobility and they show the greatest readiness to take responsibility in the emerging nation. Young people in the US are experiencing the economic downturn and therefore wish to protect ownership and lay greater stress on national security. Religion is also playing an increasingly important role in the US.

The perception of problems reflects the countries' political discourse as well as the differing cultural values. For instance, young people in Brazil cite corruption, unemployment, retirement provision and hunger as the greatest problem areas. The main concerns of young people in the US are unemployment, the price of oil, terrorism and health issues. Noticeable trends are the very high rejection of drugs/addictions in Brazil and in the US the high level of communication awareness. Young people in Brazil and the US also see more need for reform in their own country than do Swiss young people.

Representative Survey
For the 2012 Youth Barometer, over 1,000 young people in Switzerland, Brazil and the US aged between 16 and 25 were surveyed for the third time in succession by the gfs.bern research institute. The surveys, drawn up in Brazil and the US in cooperation with evalueserve, provide insights into the lifestyles, problems and attitudes of young people in the three countries. The survey was conducted online between March and May 2012. Part of the survey in Brazil was conducted in the form of personal interviews. The young people were also recruited offline for this using various methods of random selection.