Millennials Are Less Confident About the Country’s Future Than Older Generations

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The older a generation’s members are, the more optimistic they seem to be about the future

February 16, 2016

Photo Credit: Tim Evanson, Flickr Creative Commons

In one of Homer Simpson’s more lucid, philosophical moments he said, “It’s so easy to condemn, so hard to create.” That idea of negativity being much easier to produce than positivity seems to be how Millennials are thinking about the future of the U.S.

Last fall, in a survey of attitudes about government, only 37 percent of Millennials replied they had “quite a lot of confidence” in the future of the United States. Comparatively, 45 percent of respondents form Generation X, 49 percent of Baby Boomers, and 56 percent of the Silent Generation said they had a lot of confidence in the future, according to pewresearch.org.

Lest you think Millennials are an overly pessimistic bunch, these prior generations weren’t quite so optimistic themselves when they were younger. In 1994, when Gen Xers were aged 18-29, only 30 percent said they had quite a lot of confidence in the future compared to 50 percent of Boomers and 54 percent of the Silent Generation. Going back even further to 1975, 49 percent of boomers had confidence, as opposed to 62 percent of the Silent Generation and 67 percent of the Greatest Generation.

It looks as though youthful optimism isn’t quite as abundant as we’d like to believe. Instead, it seems to grow with age and experience.

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