A study published by the British newspaper (The Times) revealed that millennial youth in democratic countries all over the world are more disappointed with their system of government than any other young generation.
A survey of nearly 5 million people showed that young people in their twenties and thirties, born between 1981 and 1996, had less faith in democratic institutions than their parents or grandparents did at the same stage of life.
The breakdown in trust is most evident in the “Anglo-Saxon democracies” of Britain, the United States and Australia. However, similar trends are observed in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Europe.
“This is the first generation in living memory with a global majority dissatisfied with the way democracy works, and they are in their twenties and thirties,” said Dr Roberto Foa, lead author of the study from the Center for the Future of Democracy and the University of Cambridge.
Of the 2.3 billion people in the countries covered by the report, 1.6 billion, or 7 in 10, live in countries where democratic satisfaction decreases from generation to generation.
Dr. Foa returned to say that this does not mean that voters will support authoritarian alternatives. Rather, they were frustrated that their systems were not working in their favor.
The report shows a decline among British youth, mostly driven by inequality. In 1973, 54% of 30-year-old Britons said they were satisfied with democracy, and 57% of baby boomers expressed the same feelings when they were 30 after a decade.
For Generation X people, born between 1965 and 1980, satisfaction reached a high of 62% during the 1990s and 2000s. For millennials, the percentage has dropped to 48%.
Baby Boom Generation
The most comprehensive study of its kind relied on data from 4.8 million people in more than 160 countries between 1973 and 2020. It found that millennials and people of Generation X are less satisfied with democracy as they get older.
In contrast, most of the baby boomers, who are now in their 60s or 70s, continue to express their satisfaction with democracy. The same is true of the interwar generation born between 1918 and 1943.
And in countries where wealth is distributed evenly, such as Iceland or Austria, the generational difference is much less.
“This democratic disconnect is not taken for granted, but rather the result of democracies’ failure to deliver results that matter to young people in recent decades of jobs and life opportunities to tackling inequality and climate change,” says Dr Foa.
And the study report said that some countries that elected populist leaders have seen a rise. On average, those between the ages of 18 and 34 report a 16 percentage point increase in satisfaction with democracy during their first term as a populist leader. Wherever moderate politicians defeated or narrowly succeeded over a populist competitor, researchers did not find a similar increase.
“We find this not only in cases where left-wing populists are elected, but also in light of right-wing populism. The main exception is the presidency of Donald Trump in the United States,” the researchers wrote.
The study also indicates an increase in partisan political views. In Western democracies 41% of millennials agree that you can “know if a person is good or bad if you know their politics,” compared to 30% of voters over the age of 35.
“The spread of polarized attitudes among millennials may mean that advanced democracies remain fertile ground for populist politics,” Dr. Fua concluded.