Poll: Younger generation would rather live in the past

opinion poll
Younger generation would rather live in the past

Young people still have life ahead of them and are actually very future-oriented. Photo: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

For decades, young people were considered rebellious. However, according to a survey, the majority of young people no longer dream of a better future, but of the past.

According to a new survey, the majority of younger people in Germany long for the past.

In a representative online survey for the Hamburg Foundation for Future Questions (of the company British American Tobacco (BAT)), 56 percent of adults under the age of 34 said they would rather live in the past.

Completely different result a decade ago

44 percent would prefer the future. Almost a decade ago, the result of a similar survey looked very different: In 2013, only 30 percent would rather live in the past and 70 percent in the future.

“This is really new and very unusual,” said the scientific director of the foundation, Ulrich Reinhardt. Young people still have life ahead of them and are therefore actually very forward-looking. Respondents would generally associate the term “past” with their own childhood and youth.

In the middle generation, between the ages of 35 and 54, the proportion of nostalgic increased to a lesser extent from 54 to 66 percent. According to the survey, an almost constant 68 percent of older people aged 55 and over yearn for the past. In 2013, the proportion with this attitude was 70 percent.

“Because it used to be better”

When asked why they preferred to live in the past, 42 percent of respondents across all age groups said that there was greater cohesion in the past. 35 percent gave the reason “because it used to be better”.

There was “more security and stability”, explained 34 percent. Other reasons given were: “People were happier” (29 percent), “fewer wars and crises” (23), “environmental conditions were better” (22) and “fear of the future” (20).

Young people in particular missed cohesion and community, said Reinhardt. Apparently, people meet less for out-of-home activities in the largely digital world.

The corona pandemic has exacerbated the problems

It is clear to many that friends on Facebook or Instagram are not enough, said Reinhardt. “That doesn’t replace the friends you can rely on when there are questions about life, when there is a lot of uncertainty and when you just want to have fun.” The problem has intensified during the corona pandemic. The Ukraine war, on the other hand, did not play a major role in the survey results.

In surveys, he has repeatedly found that the younger generation strives for security, also in the world of work. “The civil service is experiencing a renaissance,” said the futurologist. In the preceding decades, on the other hand, the desire to change the world for the better dominated. Now the under-34s are turned back. Reinhardt (51) commented critically: “It’s also a generation that was completely pampered by their parents.”


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