18-25 years old: surprisingly optimistic and resilient young people

18_25_surprisingly_optimistic_resilient young people

In a difficult context, young people are more positive than we think in the face of tomorrow's challenges, more mature too and define themselves mainly by the causes they defend, favoring modes of action in the private sphere rather than in a public space that does not inspire them.

These are the main lessons from the exclusive survey carried out in October among 18-25 year olds for The Conversation France by the research firm George(s).


Find the exclusive survey "Young people in France" carried out in October 2023 for The Conversation France by the George(s) firm. A study of a representative sample of more than 1000 people which allows us to better understand the commitments of 18-25 year olds, the causes they defend and their vision of the future.

While numerous surveys show parents' concerns for their offspring, the young people questioned are mainly optimistic when thinking about the future (71%) and around a quarter of them say they are "very optimistic" but they are considering their levers of change. action in a family or friendly context rather than collective.

86% of them also declare themselves to be adults and make financial autonomy a primordial condition for their future life.

A commitment that materializes in the private sphere

One of the striking facts of the study is that the confidence expressed is anchored in the immediate environment, while family (45%) and friends (41%) are the elements that make them “very happy”.

The young people interviewed say they define themselves primarily through the causes they support, mainly environmental and societal: food waste, defense of the environment, fight against violence against women, fight against racism and discrimination …

But this commitment, which is therefore at the heart of their identity, is both a personal and civic commitment.

Mobilization or membership in a political party or a union do not therefore represent strong proof of commitment in their eyes. No more than participating in a demonstration or signing a petition, reflecting a real gap between their concerns and the possibility of expressing them in the world around them.

Several forms of "donations" are in fact highlighted in relation to getting involved: helping a dependent or sick person (83%), giving one's time in general (80%), donating money ( 75%) are widely cited.

The engagement is both proximal and intimate. It demonstrates true resilience and takes on its full meaning through everyday actions and gestures. Asked about "the people whose example makes you want to get involved, to mobilize", they cite first their parents, then "people of their generation that they have met" and thirdly "members of their family".

There remains a singularity, even if only 16% of them believe that their "political opinions" contribute to saying who they are and that we know the low participation rates of young people in elections, 79% still consider voting as a proof of commitment.

An apparently contradictory element but which seems to reflect the gap between current political representation and that which we would like and which would trigger the desire to participate in the elections.

An assumed maturity in the face of the economic context

Being financially independent (58%), having a stable professional situation (46%), having your own accommodation (40%)… these three elements are the first to be taken into consideration by 18-25 year olds as constituting a transition to adulthood.

A vision which reflects the reality of a generation which also faces a certain precariousness. It should also be noted that 41% of 18-25 year olds believe that their mental and physical health is very important to understanding who they are and therefore makes it a cornerstone of their balance.

The question of educational or professional guidance shows divergences. A majority of the young people questioned (56%) thus believe that they have the feeling of having really been able to choose this orientation but among working people, it is the fact of having a profession which does not correspond to their diploma which dominates (at 53% ).

When it comes to work, young people are both very reasoned and very demanding, projecting real maturity. Among the things considered "very important" are the working atmosphere (51%), but also remuneration and material benefits (50%), level of responsibility (31%) and free time (44%). The possibility of evolving (43%) is considered more important than the company's values ​​and commitments (34%).

So many observations which seem to favor a very pragmatic approach to work, far from the declarations that we can see here and there on certain quests for meaning prioritized without much material consideration.

Ambiguity in the face of the media

Because they find their bearings in this local environment, the young people interviewed appear very ambiguous in the face of the world reflected by the media.

When they decide to get informed, priority is not given to politics or economics. They prefer to turn to cultural news (declared interest score of 7,05/10), linked to the environment, health or science (6,63) or sport (6,21). Unsurprisingly compared to our findings on engagement, declared interest is much lower for national (5,54) or international (5,38) politics.

Faced with current events, they say they are both worried (41%) and curious (36%), tired (33%) and optimistic (24%). But anxiety (25%) and distrust (29%) do not necessarily lead to indignation (14%) or mobilization (10%).

A point to underline: young women say they are on average more worried than men (48% vs 33%), more tired (39,5% vs 26%), anxious (31,8% vs 18%) or overwhelmed ( 29,6% vs. 19,5%).

Fabrice Rousselot, Managing Editor, The Conversation France

This article is republished from The Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

Image credit: Shutterstock / Jose Calsina

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