• The pandemic has not slowed down the voluntary commitment of young people: according to the Youth Barometer published this Friday, 64% of 18-30 year olds questioned were engaged in 2021 within a structure (association, union, political party... ), compared to 51% in 2019.

  • This involvement is also reinforced since more of them take action regularly, giving several hours a week or a month.

  • Their motivations are multiple: more time to devote themselves to others, the desire to act in the field, to break with loneliness...

Student precariousness, psychological problems, the risk of dropping out with distance learning courses… Much has been said about the harmful effects of the health crisis on 18-30 year olds.

And very few of its positive consequences.

However, this period made them more than ever want to participate in the civic and social life of their countries.

The proof with the increase in volunteering among 18-30 year olds since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, as highlighted by the youth barometer* of the Department of Youth, Popular Education and Associative Life (Djepva ),

of the National Institute of Youth and Popular Education (Injep) and the Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions (Crédoc) published this Friday.

According to this, in 2021, 64% of young people say they volunteer their time within an association or another organization (political party, union, etc.), compared to 51% in 2019.

"They feel a need for action to give meaning to their lives"

Their commitment is also more regular: in 2021, nearly one in two young people (48%) declared that they volunteered their time for several hours per week, per month or at a specific time of the year (compared to 37% in 2019) and 16% more episodically (compared to 14% in 2019).

“The pandemic has not undermined their spirit of solidarity,” summarizes Sandra Hoibian, director of the society division at Crédoc.

A propensity to make themselves useful is easily explained by Jacques Malet, president of Research and Solidarity, an associative network of solidarity experts: “The pandemic has prevented them from investing in their social life, from travelling… They feel a need action to give meaning to their lives.

According to Sandra Hoibian, the health crisis has also given them the time they need to put into effect the desire to become volunteers that has existed for ages: "Containments, health restrictions (curfew, restriction of movement) and the contraction of sociability and leisure activities have given them the availability they lacked before”.

Multiple associative fields invested

The exacerbated feeling of loneliness that they have felt for two years has also encouraged them to take the plunge: "By joining an association, they knew that they were going to be able to meet new people", emphasizes Jacques Malet.

This desire to get involved also refers to the values ​​of this generation: “They have great distrust of institutions, but place their trust in local associations that can act concretely on the ground”, continues the researcher.

The areas of association they have chosen are particularly varied: solidarity, the fight against discrimination, sport, humanitarian action, the environment, help for the sick, integration, employment, culture, etc. “The environment is a source of growing concern among the population as a whole and among young people.

Hence the desire not to remain inactive in the face of global warming”, emphasizes Jacques Malet.

A long-term commitment?

Moreover, we note that the voluntary commitment of young people is linked to their experience. Those who have experienced discrimination are more likely to engage in associations, according to the study. “Young people have the feeling that for a society to be united, everyone has to have their place. Hence their greater sensitivity than their elders to the fight against discrimination,” emphasizes Sandra Hoibian.

It remains to be seen whether the investment of 18-30 year olds in an association, a union or a political party will last when the effects of the health crisis are less felt.

“It all depends on how they were received in these structures.

If they have been well trained for their missions, if they have the impression of being really useful, volunteering will provide them with a form of personal fulfillment that they will want to continue.

Moreover, more and more young people are aware that an experience of this type is valued in a CV.

And the longer it is, the more it attracts the attention of recruiters,” says Jacques Malet.


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* Online survey carried out between March 8 and April 8, 2021 among 4,644 young French people aged 18 to 30.

  • Covid-19

  • Association

  • Coronavirus

  • Society

  • Youth

  • Solidarity

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