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'Generation Stress'? Today's Youth Wants Everything at Once.

2016 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer – a representative survey in Switzerland, the US, Singapore, and Brazil

The 2016 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer illustrates how the growing variety of goals in life and the more and more widespread use of smartphones and apps are increasingly turning young people into a 'stress' generation. The survey also shows that politics on the web works: The fact that political issues can be commented on and discussed online is viewed positively. The greatest concerns on the minds of Swiss 16 to 25-year-olds are migration and issues regarding foreigners. Outside Switzerland unemployment remains one of the key concerns.

The young people surveyed in Switzerland, Brazil, Singapore, and the US want to have everything in life: a career, but with a good work-life balance; to be independent and to work at an international company; to save less, but also own their own home. And with all activities they are constantly online, communicate with each other, consume news, play games, and discover new platforms – Snapchat is a high-flyer in Switzerland in particular. All this allows us to conclude that today's youth is turning into a 'stress' generation.

Politics on the Web Works

In the year in which the internet celebrates its 25th anniversary, politicians around the world are attempting more intensively than ever before to appeal to young people via the internet and social media. A majority of those surveyed in Switzerland and abroad considers it good that political issues can be commented on and discussed online: They see this as a benefit for politics. However, young people are also aware of the negative side of the virtual world – above all with regard to so-called 'shitstorms' and potentially manipulated political contents on Facebook and Twitter. Having said this, apart from in Switzerland there is broad agreement with the statement "Facebook, Twitter, and online comments make politics more interesting and motivate users to become more politically engaged”. And even in Switzerland, 39% of those surveyed think that internet democracy facilitates co-determination.

Free Newspapers Remain the Most Important Medium

With the virtually nationwide dissemination of smartphones, Swiss youngsters are split into two camps in terms of the frequency of news consumption. A growing number of those surveyed catches up several times a day. These contrast with more and more young people who rarely to never at all catch up on the day's events. Free newspapers are still the most important source of news for 62% of young people in Switzerland, down from 75% in 2010. Competition from news portals and news apps as well as Facebook is rising sharply. In the case of 20 Minuten and Blick am Abend there has been a change of channel: Instead of the printed newspaper, the publication is now increasingly being read digitally. Asked which media they trust, the youngsters initially cite Swiss radio and television SRF, NZZ, and Tages-Anzeiger. Purely digital channels are at the bottom of the ranking: YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Concerns about Migration and Issues Regarding Foreigners

The refugee issue has gained importance in Switzerland. While in the first Youth Barometer in 2010 it was described as a problem by 22% of those surveyed, this has already reached 46% today. The topic of "foreigners and immigration" is also a cause of concern for 45% of young people. These two issues top the list of "Switzerland's greatest problems." This is in line with surveys carried out among the Swiss electorate in the recent past. In the 2015 Credit Suisse Worry Barometer, around 43% of those surveyed described "issues regarding foreigners" and 35% "refugees/asylum seekers" as Switzerland's key problem. Solutions in the area of environmental protection and unemployment are considered less urgent by Switzerland's youth.

International Differences Regarding the Main Concerns of Young People

US: Unemployment, terrorism, and healthcare are the most widespread issues in the US. Somewhat contrary to their reputation, young Americans are adapting less quickly to new technologies than their counterparts in Switzerland: Lively use is still made of text messaging, while WhatsApp has barely established itself. Snapchat is also described here as less "in."
Brazil: Corruption and unemployment are cited by over two-thirds of young Brazilians, while neither topic appears in the top five in Switzerland. Many results suggest that young people from the South American country have a great interest in digital technologies.
Singapore: Young Singaporeans cite inflation and health issues as the second and third most important problems of their country. The top issue is terrorism. Fear of attacks has increased markedly in recent years: Back in 2013 only 11% described this as a problem, while today this has risen to 38% (Switzerland: sixth position, 23%).

Overview: The Ten Most Important Insights from the 2016 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer

  1.  Unemployment remains one of the main concerns: The tense economic climate in recent years is also reflected in the Youth Barometer. Job concerns are one of the most frequently cited problems in all countries except for Switzerland.
  2. Fear of terrorism is growing: The many attacks around the world have increased fears of terrorism. In Singapore it comes first, in the US second, and in Switzerland sixth in the worry ranking list. While 13% of young Swiss citizens described terrorism as a major problem back in 2010, this has now risen to 23%.
  3. Optimistic view of the future: Despite their concerns, the young people surveyed, who were born between 1991 and 2000, view the future with optimism, although somewhat less than in earlier years. Swiss youngsters display the most optimism (59%). The majority of the youth in Brazil (54%) also expects things to turn out well – but this is down from 67% in 2010. Fifty-two percent are of this opinion in the US and 43% in Singapore.
  4. Credibility of the web decreasing: A large majority is aware that postings on Facebook, Twitter, and the like can be manipulated. And only a minority believes these comments to be honest and genuine (exception: Singapore). There is awareness everywhere that there are so-called trolls on the web whose intentions are not honest.
  5.   Widespread experience of cyber-mobbing: Many of those surveyed reported negative experiences on the internet. 40% in the US, 39% in Switzerland, 33% in Singapore, and 26% in Brazil claimed to have been harassed or even mobbed on Facebook.
  6. Snapchat on the rise: While text messaging is continuing to gain importance in the US and Singapore, it only remains in use by a minority in Brazil and Switzerland. New favorite: Snapchat. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed already make use of the communication service in Switzerland.
  7. Saving for home ownership: Home ownership is the greatest financial desire in all countries. And the low interest environment of the last few years has left its mark. If given 10,000 units of their national currency, the young people would pay less into their savings account than in 2015. Instead, putting money aside to buy a home, buying equities and funds (US, BR, SG), going on holiday (BR, SG, CH), and investing in the family (US, BR, SG) are popular desires.
  8. Many goals in life: Those surveyed have many goals in life, some of which are also contradictory. The following are supported by over 50% in all countries: "a good work/life balance," "pursuing one's own dreams," "home ownership," "developing one's own talents," "trying out different things," "pursuing a career," "family with children," "getting to know many countries and cultures."
  9. Self-employment is the most frequent career aspiration: Questioned about their preferred employer, many young people say they would like to be self-employed. An exception is Switzerland where self-employment is not sought after so broadly. The most popular employers are: 1. Google, 2. SBB, 3. Novartis, 4. Roche, 5. Credit Suisse. The home office is increasingly gaining in popularity: Apart from in Singapore, where working from home has for a long time been most popular, considerably more of those surveyed consider this option to be important than in 2015 in all the countries surveyed.
  10.  Established religions continuing to lose ground: Between 22% and 34% of those surveyed describe themselves today as agnostic/atheist/undenominational. Just two years ago it was between 5% and 13%. The established religions are therefore losing ground among those canvassed despite still attracting majorities.

The detailed analyses of the study, including information graphics, can be found at: www.credit-suisse.com/youthbarometer


The 2016 Youth Barometer is being discussed on Twitter at #youthbarometer.