2022 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer: The economic situation and war are leaving their mark – increasing need 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.
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 passive 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 (all 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 only big loser aside from print newspapers – particularly in Switzerland, where the platform has become even less important. In the US, there has been a notable rise in the use of TikTok, making it 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 falling systematically 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 of the countries surveyed. In contrast to the current trend, issues such as working from home and flexible working hours are comparatively less important.