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2013 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer
Young people in Switzerland are content and see very little need for reform, while young people in other countries are more critical of their prospects for the futureThe 2013 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer survey was the first to span four countries on four continents, with Singapore joining Switzerland, the US and Brazil. The results of the 2013 Youth Barometer are influenced by each country's economic situation and the somewhat uncertain job prospects. Careers remain the central factor in the life of the 16- to 25-year-olds surveyed in all four countries, so it comes as no surprise that unemployment is one of the worries most commonly mentioned by young people. Swiss young people differ from their counterparts abroad in that they are more optimistic and see little need for political reform.
Young people in all four countries are focused on their own professional careers and on striving for security. School and education are tremendously important, and lifelong learning is indispensable for this generation. There is a general view that you will be successful if you enjoy your job and that you should switch careers if you don't. However, the realities of the labor markets in the US, Brazil and Singapore contradict these perceptions because the majority of people in these countries think you should be happy to have a job at all. The situation in Switzerland, with its economic stability and dual educational system, is unique. Youth unemployment is lower than in other countries, and significantly more respondents are happy with their job situation than in other countries.
An overview of the ten most important findings of the 2013 Youth Barometer:
1. Attitude toward life: Young people's attitude toward life has shifted to be somewhat less hopeful than in the last three years. Confidence has clearly fallen in the US, where only around half of young people are optimistic about their own future (a decrease of 6 percentage points from 2012). Although Brazil continues to exhibit the highest level of optimism (68%), here too the figure is down by 5 percentage points. Switzerland shows the least change in optimism (65%, 1 percentage point lower), while in Singapore just 45% rate their prospects as positive.
2. Goals: What young people around the world share, however, are the goals of owning their own home, following their dreams and achieving a good work-life balance. A majority in all four countries want to have a family, an aspiration that is particularly common in Brazil and Switzerland (68% in each country).
3. Career: 76% of Brazilians want to make a career for themselves (Singapore: 66%, US: 62%, Switzerland: 51%). In Switzerland, young people consider their private life to be just as important as work: 88% aspire to have an interesting career, while 91% want to have friends they can rely upon.
4. Money: The urge to save is very high and has actually risen slightly in recent years. If they were lucky enough to receive a large sum of money, young people would put aside between 25% (Switzerland) and 37% (US). This figure is 34% in Brazil and 35% in Singapore.
5. Debt: Young people in the US and Brazil have the highest levels of debt, with 26% in each case saying they have personal loans (Singapore 17%, Switzerland 4%). An even higher proportion owes money to cell phone companies: Brazil 32%, US 25%, Singapore 22%. Only in Switzerland is this type of debt uncommon (5%).
6. National pride: Although young people have historically tended to have a critical relationship with government, today the majority – with the exception of Brazil (39%, compared to 47% in 2012) – are proud of their countries. National pride is particularly strong among young Swiss people (83%). 67% of young people in the US are proud of their country, as are 74% in Singapore.
7. Politics: While only one-third of those in Switzerland are demanding political reform, that figure is 80% in Brazil, as was recently demonstrated by a national protest movement. Young people in Switzerland are generally more satisfied with their country’s political system but voice strong political opinions when they feel directly affected by a specific issue.
8. Concerns: One major concern for young people in all four countries is unemployment, specifically youth unemployment. In the US (54%) and Singapore (42%), it is the greatest worry of all; in Brazil it ranks second (42%) and in Switzerland third (32%). Otherwise, concerns are very country-specific. The second biggest worry in the US is the price of gas and oil (44%), while in Singapore it is inflation and prices (41%). Corruption comes top of the list in Brazil (63%, compared to 50% in 2012), while the most frequently cited issue in Switzerland is that of foreigners, integration, and freedom of movement (50%).
9. Communication: Smartphones have become a dominant lifestyle product since the survey was first started. Usage patterns are constantly changing, as shown by the way WhatsApp has abruptly squeezed out SMS messaging in Switzerland. Two-thirds of young people here communicate using the WhatsApp messenger service, which is also extremely popular in Singapore (69%) – though not in Brazil (11%) or the US (4%).
10. Drugs: The consumption of drugs, performance-enhancing substances and smoking are very much out of favor among young people in all four countries. However, it is worth noting that the majority of young Swiss people oppose a night-time ban on retail alcohol sales.
Summary of Switzerland: Swiss Young People Like their Country
Swiss young people have optimistic, modern attitudes. They are in a special position in many respects thanks to the country's prosperity and its dual educational system. More than their contemporaries, they are post-materialists and they still see their chances of realizing their own dreams as extremely high. Today's young people appear less secure about the future, but careers and education enjoy a high and increasing level of importance during this phase of life. A good work-life balance is essential in everything from careers and education to having a family. The mainstream of Swiss young people is still very focused on friends and families, and there is no indication that they are interested in political revolution. Their faith in the Swiss political system is even on the increase. For the first time, more than half of young people believe that government and administrative policies are usually effective in important matters. With regard to Switzerland's problems, they think that the issues of immigration, integration of foreigners, and freedom of movement are becoming more pressing. As in previous years, the most important problems include retirement planning (37%) and unemployment / youth unemployment (32%).
Differences Between Countries
Compared with Brazil, the US, and Singapore, young people in Switzerland aspire more to intangible personal development and less toward public recognition. They are still concerned with pursuing their dreams and maintaining a work-life balance. Swiss young people are self-confident and proud of their country, giving it a higher rating for international reputation than the young people of any of the other countries. Switzerland was the only country in which protecting the environment was considered to be one of the most important issues.
Brazilians are strongly focused on advancing socially via their careers, while also being committed to solidarity and to protecting the environment. Religion also plays a major role in Brazil. Domestic political tensions may have affected Brazilian young people's pride in their country, while they see tourism, culture, and upcoming major events as relevant to Brazil's reputation abroad.
In the US, young people are somewhat less confident today than in previous years about their country and their own futures. Young Americans perceive their country as focusing inwardly and believe that it has a rather poor reputation overseas. The majority of them are nevertheless proud of their country, regardless of the opinion of other nationalities.
In Singapore, conformity and motivation, along with respect for their own country, are hallmarks of the young people's attitudes toward life. Interestingly, young people in Singapore expressed less optimism about their own futures than did their counterparts in the three other countries, but at the same time, more than three-quarters of them are confident that their country has a good reputation internationally. Singapore's young people are especially concerned about issues related to immigration and foreigners.
The 2013 Youth Barometer – an Internationally Representative Survey
Around 1,000 young people ranging between 16 and 25 years of age in Switzerland, Brazil, the US, and Singapore were surveyed for the 2013 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer. The results provide an insight into lifestyle, problems, and attitudes among young people in the four countries. The survey was primarily conducted online by the Swiss research institute gfs.bern, in cooperation with international partners, between April and May 2013. The Credit Suisse Youth Barometer has been compiled annually since 2010 and is now in its fourth year.