There are many reasons why Sebastian Garcia is optimistic about the future.
After his family immigrated from Mexico, he was raised on a farm in northwest Texas, where he says there aren’t many racist slurs he hasn’t heard. When the 24-year-old graduated from college, he decided to become an educator. But the early years of his teaching career were turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced his public school system to close for months.
Meanwhile, Garcia and his peers had to go through the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, weighed down by student loans that made affordable housing and access to health care beyond reach.
Despite the challenges of what Mr. Garcia describes as the endless pursuit of the American Dream, he says he’s convinced that better things are ahead. He is part of a larger trend among Millennials and Gen Z Americans who say they are more likely to be optimistic about the future and their ability to create change than their older counterparts, according to a new poll from MTV and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The survey measured attitudes among Gen Z Americans aged 13 to 24, as well as Millennials 25 to 40 and Gen X Americans aged 41 to 56.
“I know that as long as there are people who are willing to work hard and go through the tough times, you can persevere,” Garcia said. “Me and my family are proven facts. “
The poll found that 66% of Gen Z and 63% of Generation Y Americans believe their generation is motivated to make positive change, compared with 56% of Generation X Americans. These generations are also more likely than Generation X to think they can have an impact on what government does, with 44% of Gen Z and 42% of Millennials saying they can, at least a moderate amount, compared to just 31% of Gen X .
For Jonathan Belden, 29, being optimistic about the future and the potential for positive change is necessary as a father of five.
“Despite the challenges, in many ways the United States is the only place where we have so much unhindered opportunity,” said the New Mexico resident. “And I want my kids to grow up in a place where they can be successful at whatever they do.”
While members of these three generations have mixed opinions on the state of the country and the future, the poll shows that Gen Z and millennials are not so negative about the world their generation is facing.
Despite the fact that millennials, some of whom are now reaching middle age, reach milestones like marriage, parenthood and homeownership later in life than previous generations, nearly half of them they have declared that their standard of living is better than that of their parents. at the same age. For Gen Z, about half also think their standard of living is better than that of their parents, while about a quarter think it is worse.
Additionally, about half of Gen Z and Gen Y say the world they face is worse than other generations, compared to about 6 in 10 of Gen X.
With less pessimism and less motivation to create change, many Gen Z and Millennials are pushing forward progressive policies targeting racial, class, and gender disparities.
About half of Gen Z and Millennials say they are in favor of a universal basic income, while about a quarter oppose it. Among Gen Xers, about a third are in favor and about as many are against.
About 3 in 10 Gen Z and Millennials are in favor of cutting funding for law enforcement agencies, while about 4 in 10 oppose it. The opposition is much higher among Generation X, with 56% against.
And while few across the three generations oppose a ban on discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender identity, Millennials and Gen Z are more likely than Gen X to support this policy.
Despite a marked divergence in political attitudes, Gen Z and Gen Y are more optimistic than Gen X that Americans can come together and resolve their political differences (45% and 41%, compared to 33%).
“Where I find the most hope is when I talk to people and we find common ground,” Mr. Belden said. “When that happens, even if there are differences, it helps me to feel that there is good in people and in the world and that it is not going to hell in a basket. hand.”
Mr. Garcia agreed, saying that although the last few years have been difficult, “I know that someday, maybe not today, maybe not next year, but eventually we will overcome it.”
This story was reported by The Associated Press. The AP-NORC survey of 3,764 adolescents aged 13 to 17 and adults aged 18 to 56 was conducted from September 1 to 19.