2015 IRIS Millennials Survey

The 2015 IRIS Millennials Survey seeks to develop a unique understanding of a demographic cohort projected to overtake the baby boomers in 2015 (according to the Pew Research Center). IRIS asked Millennials living in 23 countries for their outlook on the economy, their health and life in general.

 

On the whole, few Millennials feel satisfied with their current station. Fewer than one in five living in Europe, North America or parts of Asia-Pacific reported being extremely satisfied (9 or 10 on an 11-point scale) with their life as a whole nowadays. These figures stand in contrast to historically more optimistic views held by older cohorts in many European countries. In 2012 the European Social Survey (ESS) measured much higher satisfaction among non-millennials in Germany (35% top 2 box satisfaction), the Netherlands (32%) and Switzerland (49%). However, higher proportions of millennials in Mexico, Columbia and Brazil are satisfied with their lives as a whole, with as many as one-third reporting being extremely satisfied.

Use our interactive dashboard below to compare survey results to development indicators in each of the 23 participating countries



Much of this dissatisfaction runs parallel to the views Millennials hold about their local economies. Fewer than one in ten Millennials reported being extremely satisfied with the economy in countries such as Spain (7%), Greece, (9%) and Ireland (8%), where they face double digit unemployment figures. Even in North America – where unemployment is considerably lower, but GDP growth is stagnant – attitudes are comparatively negative in Canada (10% top 2 box satisfaction) and the United States (12%). Globally, Millennials also reported low satisfaction scores when asked about their work/life balance, suggesting that they find it challenging to establish their careers and start their adult lives with so much economic uncertainty.

Millennials, however, are not all doom and gloom. North and South America, and many parts of Europe, they feel a sense of accomplishment from what they do in life, with as many as half (Canada – 50%) and no fewer than one-third (Spain – 32%) stating they agree or agree strongly with the statement Most days I feel a sense of accomplishment from what I do in my lifeFurther, many Millennials see themselves as being in control of their destiny. Well over half of those living in North America, and much of Asia-Pacific, agree or agree strongly with the statement I feel I am free to decide for myself how to live my life and while agreement wasn’t as strong in parts of Europe and South America, still roughly half of those living in these parts of the world agreed with this statement. This all contributes to an overwhelmingly positive agreement with the statement I’m always optimistic about my futureparticularly in the western hemisphere (Canada – 60% top 2 box agreement, Brazil – 58%, Colombia – 57%), while more tumultuous economic conditions in Europe and Asia have left millennials cautiously optimistic (United Kingdom – 51%, Germany – 48%, China – 43%).

How can we account for this heightened optimism? A look at the psychographic profile of Millennials may hold the answer. Environics’ own Social Values research suggests that millennials in Canada and the United States embody a distinct set of social attitudes that differ significantly from that of their parents, the baby boomers. One of the key characteristics of North American Millennials is how their social values converge in a way that rejects the personal beliefs of their parents. Millennials in Canada and the United States place much less importance on traditional institutions such as religion and are more likely to question authority —They are motivated by pursuing individual goals and a penchant for risk.

In the 2015 IRIS Millennials Survey, Canadian and American Millennials equally disagreed with the statement I believe that young people should be taught to obey authority, while also equally agreeing with the statement It should primarily be government, not the private sector, that is concerned with solving the country’s problems – signalling that they hold their governments responsible for current economic conditions and will expect them to responsibly address these issues. Similar, but even stronger, sentiment can be observed among those millennials living in European countries such as Greece and Spain, where economic conditions are more extreme.

Use our interactive dashboard below explore the social values present among Millennials in each of the 23 participating countries

Despite this sharp criticism, Millennials do not necessary believe that they are entitled to prosperity. Again, Millennials in both Canada in the United States equally agreed with the statement I would prefer to do work that is in the public interest, and I have a personal responsibility to help those worse off than mewhich suggests that they see themselves playing a significant role in the betterment of all mankind as they mature and inherit a more influential role in society.

Ultimately, it is Millennials’ belief in the axiom In order to get what I want, I would be prepared to take great risks in life (more than half of Millennials in Canada and the United States believed this statement exactly or fairly well reflected their personal position) that acts as the foundation for their optimistic outlook. They recognize that the challenges that face their generation will require bold and collaborative efforts, but they are eager to tackle those challenges to shape a global society that will bear their unique footprint.

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