Young people in Sweden see the future in record darkness


Published 6 February 2023 at 08.44

Domestic. Almost every other young person (45 percent) sees the future of society as dark and 53 percent believe that their generation will be worse off than previous generations. It shows a new report from the Youth Barometer.

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At the same time, for the first time, a majority (55 percent) of young people feel that society is heading in the wrong direction and fewer believe that they have the opportunity to influence their lives.

Only every second young people, 52 percent, now say they are hopeful about the future, which is a decrease of 10 percent over the same period.

– Generation Z is an individualistic generation that has a fairly positive view of its own future, even if it is not as positive as before. But they are not a generation that only cares about themselves, it is clear that they also worry about society at large. The darker picture of the future is something we have seen in recent years and not just something that comes from war and inflation, although these factors strengthen the already ongoing trend, says Ulrik Hoffman, CEO of Ungdomsbarometern, in a press release.

The report is based on responses from 16,000 young people between the ages of 15-24. It also shows a more materialistic mindset where consumption and money have become more important. In this year's report, almost half (47 percent) state that “making money” is most important right now. This compared to 36 percent in 2020. The economy is now a major stress factor in young people's lives, with one in two (50 percent) worrying about their finances every week.

– The fact that money has become more important has to some extent to do with the fact that the opportunities were more limited during the pandemic, but last year's more desire-driven financial interest among young people is now more about worry and uncertainty about the future. Money becomes instead, just like family and friends, a form of security where you want to create a stable economy and get into the housing market, says Ulrik Hoffman.

Decreased interest in starting a family< /strong>
While relationships with friends and family are still important, the importance of finding a partner and starting a family is decreasing. In 2011, 59 percent thought it was very important to “meet the right person” and 42 percent thought it was very important to have children in order to be satisfied with life in the future. In this year's survey, the corresponding figures are 48 and 34 percent respectively. It may indicate that a generation of young people is now growing up where their own family formation is postponed to the future due to the unrest in the outside world and an unclear and gloomy picture of the future.

The importance of getting into new relationships and having sex has also changed a lot over time. In 2011, 39 percent thought it was important to meet new people and 43 percent that it was important to have sex. Since then, interest in both of these activities has decreased to 28 percent and 27 percent respectively.

Political disinterest
The terms that young people use to describe their identity continue to be increasingly interest-driven and increasingly less political/value driven. Describing oneself as an exercise person, sports fan and health person increases over time, while the more liberal or progressive identities that are widespread among young people have decreased. Since 2020, there are 14 percentage points fewer who describe themselves as anti-racist, 4 percentage points fewer who describe themselves as feminists and four percentage points fewer who describe themselves as environmentalists. A big reason why the percentage of politically charged identities is going down is that the guys in particular distance themselves from these to an increasingly greater degree. Identities such as conservative (5%) and nationalist (4%) are low with only marginal tendencies to increase.