Credit Suisse Youth Barometer 2016:
A Closer Look at "Generation Stress"
They are known as "Generation Stress." They want it all in life, are constantly online, and always searching for the latest app. At the same time, however, young people are living in an age of political upheaval, where political information is disseminated and discussed increasingly on the internet. Accordingly, the focus of this year's study rests on politics online.
What do these young people, who can hardly distinguish between online and offline, concern themselves with? Also, how do they imagine the future? These are just some of the questions that the GfS Research Institute, commissioned by Credit Suisse, asked roughly 1,000 young people in Switzerland, the US, Brazil, and Singapore.
Here is an overview of the ten most important findings of the 2016 Youth Barometer:
1. Politics online: There has not only been an increase in interest in politics, but social media also offers new opportunities for political dialogue. The majority of respondents gave a positive assessment of being able to comment on and discuss political issues online. Nevertheless, young people know about the negative side of the virtual world. They are aware that posts can be manipulated, especially on social media. Only a minority feels that the comments are honest and not distorted (exception: Singapore). Everywhere the survey was conducted, people know that the web is full of trolls with dishonest intentions.
2. Communication: Smartphones and the large number of digital service providers have a major influence on the increasing inability of young people to tell the difference between being online and offline. Certain platforms, Facebook in particular, are turning more and more into sources of information. While text messaging continues to gain popularity in the US and Singapore, only a minority of people text in Brazil and Switzerland. One of the biggest trends is Snapchat. Fifty-two percent of respondents use the communication service in Switzerland.
3. Use of media: Free newspapers are still the most important medium of news consumption for 62 percent of respondents. In 2010, that number was still an amazing 75 percent, meaning competition from internet news sites and apps is increasing heavily. In the case of "20 Minuten" and "Blick am Abend," the reason for the drop-off could also be that people are changing distribution channels: Instead of reading a print newspaper, people now read the articles online. When asked which media they trust, young people name Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF), Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and Tages-Anzeiger first. Digital-only channels – YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter – come at the bottom of the rankings.
4. Cyberbullying: Many individuals surveyed reported they have had negative experiences on the internet. A troubling number of respondents in the USA (40 percent), Switzerland (39 percent), Singapore (33 percent), and Brazil (25 percent) indicated that they had been harassed or outright bullied on Facebook.
5. Out: Young people are turned off by drugs, smoking, cell phones with no internet connection, landline phones, political parties, and social communities. Besides that, between 22 percent and 34 percent of respondents in the four countries surveyed describe themselves today as agnostic, atheist, or unaffiliated with any religion. Just two years ago, the numbers were between 5 percent and 13 percent. That means established religions are still clearly in the majority but seem to be losing ground.
6. Goals: Respondents have many (sometimes conflicting) goals in life. The following items scored over 50 percent in all of the countries: maintaining a good work-life balance, pursuing their own dreams, owning a home, making use of their talents, trying out different things, pursuing a career, having a family with children, and getting to know many countries and cultures. It may not be easy for young people to find time for all those desires.
7. Finances: In all of the countries, home ownership is the greatest aspiration when it comes to financial matters. The low interest rate environment in recent years seems to have had an effect. If the young people were given 10,000 units of the native currency, they would deposit less in their savings accounts than in 2015. Compared to last year's numbers, the declining propensity to save up for a rainy day looks like this: In the US, people would save 1,338 US dollars less. Respondents from Singapore would save 1,536 fewer Singapore dollars. The Brazilians would spend 1,483 more reals, and the young people of Switzerland would splurge with a whole 98 Swiss francs more. By contrast, however, it has become more attractive to put money aside for a house (US and Singapore), buy stocks and fund units (US, Brazil, and Singapore), take a vacation (Brazil, Singapore, and Switzerland), and spend on one's family (US, Brazil, and Singapore).
8. Job/Career: When asked about their preferred employer, many young people said they would like to be self-employed. An exception to that is Switzerland, where self-employment – though named relatively often – is clearly not the goal of as many people as in the other countries. One thing that Swiss young people do have in common with those in other countries is that Google is rated by far as the most highly preferred employer among all major employers. The remaining top five in Switzerland are, in order: 2. SBB, 3. Novartis, 4. Roche, 5. Credit Suisse. Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular as a form of work. Except for Singapore – where working from home has been the most popular for a long time now – far more respondents than in 2015 in all the countries surveyed consider that option to be important.
9. Worries: The Youth Barometer also reflects the tense economic climate of the past several years. Concern about job security is one of the most frequently mentioned problems in every country except Switzerland. The numerous attacks around the world have heightened the fear of terrorism. In Singapore, it is at the top of the list of worries. In the US, it ranks number two, and in Switzerland, it appears in sixth place. In 2010, 13 percent of Swiss people called terrorism a serious problem. Today, that number has jumped to 23 percent.
10. The future: In spite of their worries, the young people surveyed – all born between 1991 and 2000 – are optimistic about their future, albeit slightly less than in previous years. Young people in Switzerland are the most optimistic (59 percent). The majority of young people in Brazil (54 percent) also assume that things are all right. In 2010, however, the number was much higher, at 67 percent. In the US, 52 percent and, in Singapore, 43 percent of the respondents shared that feeling.