If you had to summarize the Shell Youth Study2019 in two words, they would be: stable relationships.
Every four years, teenagers and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25 have been asked for the past fourteen years how they live, how they see their future, what is important to them, what they think about politics, about family and religion. In 2015, the authors of the study surprised with their predictions that the so unpolitical held generation of young people, according to their own statement, still wants to get involved.
This finding is more than stable in 2019: For more than a year, the Fridays for Future Movement has taken to the streets for more climate protection, and with Greta Thunberg, a single teenager from Sweden has mobilized her generation and their parents worldwide. So it sounds like a nice endorsement of the 2015 forecasts that one of the key findings of the study is that 71 percent of adolescents are afraid of environmental pollution and as many as 41 percent are interested in politics.
But adolescents also value stability in social relationships: Generations of teenagers have been driven by the desire to do everything differently than their parents. The generation today does not need this differentiation: fathers and mothers are the role models (69 percent), 84 percent of 12 to 21 year olds live together with their parents, and 90 percent "come out clearly" with their parents.
Socially suspended people are susceptible to populist slogans
So all right?
No. Because something else remains stable: the division of young people. "There is a strong differentiation by social origin," emphasizes Mathias Albert, one of the authors of the study. In other words, the already politicized are politicized even more. But those who have no confidence that they can change anything become more receptive to populist slogans and conspiracy theories. The more precarious the circumstances are, the more hesitantly does a youngster or adolescent agree to the statement that it is fair.
Better education is likely to change this as soon as possible: For example, it is only half as likely that adolescents from home-school parents are high school graduates (39 percent), as in adolescents from close-to-home families (81 percent).
And another statement suggests that the division of the sexes could be just as stable as it is with the elders: the majority of young women want to resign professionally when they start a family. Asked how they envision their lives with a partner and a two-year-old child, half of the women in West and East wanted their partner to work full-time while they go part-time.
This development into more classic family models has also been observed for some time. The question remains whether the young women really want to spend more time with their children and possibly reproduce the model of their parents. Or maybe they simply have no faith that their partner could and would take on the responsibility of education. Here the authors were not quite in agreement with the presentation. Are we only experiencing an intermediate phase of re-traditionalization here? Or is there greater uncertainty among young women as far as their options for reconciling family and work are concerned?
The results of the Shell study 2019 thus show a longing for stability. Does that mean an affirmation of the world that we are experiencing right now? Or rather a fear that it could get worse? One thing is clear: Politicians must first and foremost take care of the young people who already feel disconnected today. Because not the youth as such is politicized as ever, but their elite is. If at the same time 68 percent of the adolescents agree with the statement "In Germany you can not say anything bad about foreigners without being abused immediately as a racist" and 53 percent agree that the government lies to them, then there is an urgent need for action.