Report: Fewer than half of young Americans are positive about capitalism
According to a new poll from Gallup, young Americans are souring on capitalism. Less than half, 45 percent, view capitalism positively.
“This represents a 12-point decline in young adults’ positive views of capitalism in just the past two years and a marked shift since 2010, when 68 percent viewed it positively,” notes Gallup, which defines young Americans as those aged 18 to 29.
Meanwhile, 51 percent of young people are positive about socialism. This age group’s “views of socialism have fluctuated somewhat from year to year,” reports Gallup, “but the 51 percent with a positive view today is the same as in 2010.”
Despite today’s strong economy, many young Americans are struggling to make ends meet. That’s because wages are not keeping up as day-to-day costs continue to soar, author and executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project Alissa Quart tells CNBC Make It: “Stop blaming yourself and start blaming the system, or start blaming the deeper causes of your economic fragility and instability. There are forces that are constructed against you, everything from your taxes to whether you can have job security.”
Because salaries aren’t going as far as they used to to cover basic necessities, Americans are also taking on more work. About four in 10 Americans hold some kind of second job, according to a 2018 Bankrate survey. As for millennials, more than half, 51 percent, have some type of side hustle.
To further complicate things for young adults, a 2016 study by Stanford researchers found that those entering the workforce today “are far less likely to earn more than their parents when compared to children born two generations before them.”
Plus, they have less help from safety nets and their employers: Most young Americans no longer have access to the pensions a lot of their parents and grandparents relied on and health care costs are increasingly expensive, Quart says.
While young people have a less upbeat view on capitalism, “older Americans have been consistently more positive about capitalism than socialism,” Gallup reports. Of those between 30 and 49 years old, 58 percent have a positive view of capitalism and 41 percent have a positive view of socialism. Of those aged 50 to 64, 60 percent have a positive view of capitalism and 30 percent have a positive view of socialism.
“Socialism clearly sounds better as a concept to young people than to those who are older, as it has over the past eight years,” Gallup notes. “Whether the appeal of socialism to young adults is a standard function of idealism at that age that dissipates as one grows older, or will turn out to be a more permanent part of the political beliefs held by the cohort of millennials who have come of age over the past decade, remains to be seen.”
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