Jun 25, 2021 - News

Survey: Millennials, Gen Z say they're the ones who'll effect change

What generations do you expect will play a role in bringing about positive change during your lifetime?
Data: Walton Family Foundation; Table: Axios Visuals

Millennials and Gen Z believe it'll be up to them to change the world for the better, according to a new report by the Walton Family Foundation.

  • In a nationwide survey of both generations, the foundation asked about how they see their futures shaping up — and who will shape them.

What they found: Nearly half (48%) of respondents said they don't think things are going well for their generation, but that they will be able to improve things.

  • They see themselves as capable of creating change and feel called to do so, Emma Pengelly, interim home region program director for the foundation, tells Axios.
  • 81% of respondents said they have the opportunity to succeed in life if they work hard.

Why it matters: The report suggests that young people see civic and community engagement as tools they can personally use for change.

  • 42% of respondents said people elected in the future will play a role in bringing about positive change during their lifetimes, while 38% said they personally will play a role.
  • 58% of respondents said voting is an extremely or very effective way their generation can bring about change, while 54% said the same for volunteering for charitable causes or starting and/or working for a company focused on solving a problem.

Yes, but: 41% of respondents said not being able to afford to buy a home was an extremely or very big problem for them, while 38% said the same about not being able to afford and/or access higher education.

  • And generally, the lower the income and education levels, the less optimistic the responses were.
  • 48% of Black respondents and 27% of Hispanic respondents said racial inequity would be an extremely or very big problem in achieving a better life.

1 Gen Z thing: Inclusivity — living in a place that is safe for everyone regardless of ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. — was a strong theme among an NWA focus group of Gen Z teens that the foundation convened, as well as among Gen Z and millennials surveyed nationally, Pengelly tells Axios.

  • Focus group participants said the area is headed in the right direction but has some work to do.

Our thought bubble: Yes, NWA's young people want to walk and bike, but they also have to be able to afford to live here to walk and bike here. And they expect inclusivity. Take note.

Go deeper: Read the national report here and the NWA summary here.


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