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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Millennials: Bullish on Volunteering, Bearish on Politics

Harvard's Institute of Politics has a new survey of Millennials (Americans currently aged 18-29 years old):
Slightly more than one-in-three (34%) of all Millennials report that they have volunteered for community service in the last year; as has been the case from the start of this project, we find that volunteerism is greater among college students than others in this cohort. Fifty-three percent (53%) of college students report volunteering in the last year -- of which, 41 percent do so at least a few times a month or more. While community service is an important part of the lives of millions of young Americans, members of the cohort who are most active and engaged include:
• High school students (56% have participated in the last 12 months);
• Republicans (43%) compared to Democrats (32%) and Independents (31%); and
• Those that say religion plays an important role in their lives (41%) compared to those who are less religious (29%).
When compared to the attitudes of 18- to 29-year olds in 2010, the year where we have the most direct methodological comparison, every major question developed to measure the health of American politics has trended more negative. Using a 5-point scale with a neutral rating:
• Nearly three-in-five young Americans (59%) agree strongly or somewhat that “elected officials” seem to be motivated by selfish reasons” -- an increase of 5 points since 2010;
• 56 percent agree that “elected officials don’t have the same priorities I have” -- an increase of 5 points since 2010;
• 48 percent agree that “politics has become too partisan” -- an increase of 2 points since 2010; and
• 28 percent agree that” political involvement rarely has any tangible results” -- an increase of 5 points since 2010;
In a question that we developed in 2012, a near majority (47%) agree that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing,” only 16 percent disagree -- with 36 percent saying that they neither agree nor disagree.