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Summary: "Gen Nexters" See Negative Behaviors Becoming More Prevalent

A majority of young adults believe that “getting rich” is the main goal of most people in their age group, and large majorities believe that casual sex, binge drinking, illegal drug use and violence are more prevalent among young people today than was the case 20 years ago.

  • In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, researchers focused on young adults ages 18-25 (referred to as “Generation Next” in this report) and explored their outlook on life, their lifestyle and their politics. Researchers found that these groups of young adults are generally happy with their lives and optimistic about their futures. They feel that educational and job opportunities are better for them today than for the previous generation. At the same time, many of their attitudes and priorities reflect a limited set of life experiences. Marriage, children and an established career remain in the future for most of those in this age group. Most “Gen Nexters” say their generation’s top goals are fortune and fame. Roughly eight-in-ten people think their generation’s most important or second most important goal life goal is getting rich. More than two-thirds of those polled see their generation as unique and distinct. A majority says that “getting rich” is the main goal of most people in their age group, and large majorities believe that casual sex, binge drinking, illegal drug use and violence are more prevalent among young people today than was the case 20 years ago. One in five of those polled said they have no religious affiliation or are atheist or agnostic, nearly double the proportion of young people who said that in the late 1980s. Just 4% of “Gen Nexters” say people in their generation view becoming more spiritual as their most important goal in life. As far as abortion issues go, 15% of “Gen Nexters” say abortion should not be permitted at all as compared to 11% of the general public. 1

1How Young People View Their Lives, Futures and Politics: A Portrait of “Generation Next”, The Pew Research Center, January 9, 2007, pp. 1-45.

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