2020 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer: Turbulent political situation is leaving its mark – COVID-19 measures largely regarded as positive
The topics discussed in the media and by politicians in recent months matter to the younger generation: Sustainability and equality are now seen by them as key issues. Young people have developed a new political awareness and want clear solutions. However, they are not calling for a revolution. Current uncertainties around the world – from the coronavirus crisis to concerns about poverty in old age – are causing young people to become more cautious.
Overview: The ten most important insights from the 2020 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer
- Young people are becoming more politically engaged: The proportion of young people who consider it important to be politically engaged has risen significantly since 2018. They are increasingly keen to play an active role in campaigning on issues such as the environment and climate protection, as well as gender equality. In Switzerland, the proportion of young people attending political demonstrations has doubled since 2018. At the same time, the proportion of young people wanting to join a political party remains very low.
- Support for government instead of accusations of failure: Although the young people surveyed see a clear need for action on a wide variety of topics, they do not generally accuse the governments of their respective countries of failure. In particular, the measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis are mostly supported – despite the very different approaches taken in the countries examined.
- Lessons from the coronavirus crisis: Lower consumption and less fear of missing out – these are the resolutions that a lot of young people are setting themselves following months of lockdown. However, the pandemic has also made young people realize the degree of global dependency that exists and this has strengthened their desire for greater self-sufficiency at a national level. Young people in the US, Brazil and Singapore also want to do (even) more of their own shopping online in the future. Only in Switzerland does this trend not seem to be accelerating any further.
- Evaluation of coronavirus crisis: Around one in five young people in Switzerland are experiencing a deterioration in their own personal or financial circumstances due to the pandemic. However, the measures taken by the Federal Council up to the date of the survey were, on the whole, perceived as very balanced. In uncertain times, young people in the four countries also expressed the wish to have strong leaders who will take action, even if faced with some resistance.
- Sustainability rather than religion: Environmental and sustainability issues are of crucial importance to young people in all four countries. With the exception of Brazil, more young people in the countries surveyed feel they belong to the climate movement than see themselves as part of a religious community. In Switzerland, the number of respondents who see themselves as part of the climate movement is twice as high.
- Declining optimism about the future: Unlimited optimism and the belief in a bright future – which were still quite prevalent among early representatives of Generation Y – have now disappeared. The proportion of young people looking to the future with confidence has declined over the last decade. In Switzerland, exactly half of young people still say they are "reasonably confident" about their own future – compared to a figure of over 60% in 2018. In the US, Singapore and Brazil, the figure is even lower.
- Main 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. In their view, the current crisis has further increased the pressure to reform retirement provision – with around half of respondents mentioning this issue. Management of the coronavirus pandemic, and environment and climate protection, follow in second and third places, respectively.
- Future of the world of work: Trends such as digitalization, agility and sociocracy, which includes self-organization in teams and the introduction of new types of decision-making in companies, are transforming the world of work. Young people nevertheless feel that a good manager, a fair salary and tolerance are more important than flexible working hours and home working; this remains the case in 2020 despite the fact that more flexible work patterns have become increasingly widespread and have grown in importance compared to previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their personal experiences are nevertheless shaping their views: Around half of young people in Switzerland and the US, and the clear majority in Singapore and Brazil, plan to work from home on a regular basis in the future too. However, young people's key values and aspirations with regard to their employer remain the same, even against a backdrop of profound change.
- Media landscape is changing rapidly: The majority of young people still consume information about developments in their own country and around the world from various media several times a day. This proportion is nevertheless decreasing, and it is increasingly difficult to reach young people via conventional channels such as newspapers, radio and television. The transition away from linear media and toward social networks is occurring rapidly. Facebook – the exception among social media – and printed newspapers are the main losers.
- Trends shaped by technological progress: Young people's lives are influenced by trends in digital communications and entertainment. What is "in" and what young people are using and what they identify with are also heavily dependent on digital capabilities. New apps emerge and spread in cycles of three to five years. Although YouTube has already been in existence for more than 15 years, the growing need among the younger generation for image-based content from, and for, their own target audience is driving media usage to new highs.