Gen Y's attitudes differ from parents'
Updated 1/9/2007 10:53 PM ET
By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY
The views of young people today on politics, social attitudes and life goals are far different from their baby boomer parents', a national survey of 18- to 25-year-olds suggests.
More than two-thirds (67%) believe immigrants strengthen American society; a quarter favor increasing legal immigration.
Just 47% of those ages 41 to 60 say immigrants strengthen society; among those 26 and older, 16% say immigration should increase.
While young people are split over gay marriage (47% in favor, 46% opposed), those over 25 are not: 64% oppose same-sex marriage; 30% favor it.
"This is a more tolerant generation than its predecessors," says Scott Keeter of Pew Research Center, which surveyed 579 young adults and 922 adults 26 and older.
The findings that this generation's top life goals are to be rich (81%) and famous (51%) contrast with a 1967 study of college freshmen in which 85.8% said it was essential to develop "a meaningful philosophy of life," while 41.9% thought it essential to be "very well off financially."
The Pew survey asked more than 75 questions on issues from world events to politics to tattoos and binge drinking. Keeter says the study, in which 130 people were called on cellphones because they don't have a landline, is among the most extensive of this age group.
Keeter doesn't expect views on social issues to become more conservative with time. "One can imagine the complexion of these issues changing pretty significantly when this generation is in positions of power and authority," he says.
Among other findings:
•32% attend church at least once a week; 20% have no religious affiliation or are atheist or agnostic.
•48% identify more with Democrats; 35% with Republicans.
•36% have a tattoo and 30% a body piercing in a place other than an ear lobe; 25% have dyed their hair a non-traditional color.
Overall, these young adults are content with their lives and optimistic about the future: 84% say their life is excellent or good; 14% say fair or poor.
The poll was part of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions' Generation Next project. The margin of error for ages 18-25 is plus or minus 5 percentage points; for the overall poll, plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Posted 1/9/2007 2:46 PM ET
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