Global divide on social mobility

Ipsos Survey for the World Economic Forum reveals a clear global divide on social mobility

Emerging markets show enthusiasm for the future while mature economies like Australia demonstrate rampant pessimism

Social Mobility

  • Australians most pessimistic about young people owning their own home, being safe from crime, having a secure job, living comfortably in retirement and having enough money to live well
  • Four in five adults surveyed globally say today’s youth is or will be better off than their parents when it comes to having access to information (82%) and to entertainment (80%)
  • More than three in five across the world feel the same about young people’s ability to travel abroad (67% better), to have a good education (64%), and to be free to be true to themselves (61%)
  • Just half say today’s youth have better prospects for a successful career than their parents did (52%)
  • Across most emerging countries, optimism reigns on nearly all issues (although safety from crime is a frequent exception). The reverse is true in most advanced economies.

 

Sydney; 22 January 2020 – In line with the other mature economies around the globe, Australians are pessimistic about young people’s physical safety, financial wellbeing and job security according to an Ipsos survey conducted for this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Ipsos survey, conducted in 33 countries and markets in late November and early December 2019 among more than 22,000 adults aged 16-74, looks at how people around the world compare their own and young people’s quality of life and opportunities with those of previous generations.

When we look at net scores (the percentage who said better minus the percentage who said worse), the key areas of pessimism among Australians in this year’s survey are outlined below.  Interestingly, while there is clear pessimism, all of these areas have improved from when they were last measured in 2016:

  • Being able to own your own your own home (-47%, up 12% from the 2016 net score);
  • Being safe from crime or harm (-29%, up 23% from the 2016 net score);
  • Having a secure job (-23%, up 23% from the 2016 net score);
  • Being able to live comfortably when you retire from work (-18%, up 25% from the 2016 net score);
  • Having enough money to live well (-15%, up 14% from the 2016 net score).

 

In terms of beliefs about things being better or worse for today’s youth than for their parents, Australians were most optimistic about the following outlined below.  Again, we see improvement (or no movement) in these when compared with 2016 net scores:

  • Having access to information (77%, no change from the 2016 net score);
  • Having access to entertainment like film, music, books (76%, up 1% from the 2016 net score);
  • Being able to travel abroad (53%, up 2% from the 2016 net score);
  • Having a good education (48%, up 8% from the 2016 net score);
  • Being free to be true to yourself (39%, up 14% from the 2016 net score).

 

Globally, citizens are evenly split on whether today’s young people are better or worse off than their parents when it comes to their financial wellbeing and job security. Pessimists outnumber optimists when considering young people’s personal safety and their ability to be homeowners and to live comfortably when they retire. On the other hand, there is a global consensus about today’s youth being better off than their elders in terms of having access to information and to entertainment. The key findings include:

  • Four in five adults surveyed globally say today’s youth is or will be better off than their parents when it comes to having access to information (82% vs. 8% who say it is or will be worse off and 10% who say it is or will neither better nor worse) and to entertainment (80% better vs. 8% and 13%, respectively).
  • More than three in five across the world feel the same about young people’s ability to travel abroad (67% better vs. 16% worse and 18% neither better nor worse), to have a good education (64% vs. 22% and 15%, respectively), and to be free to be true to themselves (61% vs. 20% and 20%, respectively). Just half say today’s youth have better prospects for a successful career than their parents did (52% vs. 27% and 21%, respectively).
  • Only four in ten adults globally say young people are, or will be, better off than their parents when it comes to having enough money to live well (42% vs. 39% worse and 19% neither better nor worse), having a secure job (41% vs. 42% and 18%, respectively) and being able to own their own home (40% vs. 44% and 17%, respectively).
  • Less than four in ten say young people have better prospects than their elders with regards to being able to live comfortably when they retire (38% vs. 45% worse and 17% neither better nor worse) and to being safe from crime and harm (35% vs. 44% and 21%, respectively).

 

The survey also shows a stark contrast between emerging countries and mature markets.

Across most emerging countries, optimism reigns on nearly all issues (although safety from crime is a frequent exception). The reverse is true in most advanced economies. Pessimism about young people’s physical safety, financial wellbeing and job security is the norm in Western Europe, North America, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Israel. 

In many domains, the global percentage of people surveyed saying that the prospects of today’s youth are better than their parents’ is higher in than it was in 2016, when Ipsos conducted a similar survey with identical questions.  When looking at all domains combined, Canada and the United States are the only two countries surveyed that show no significant gains in optimism over the past three years.

 

The survey also explored how people compare their personal situation against that of their own parents’ generation. In nearly every country and on nearly every issue, the results are very similar to people’s assessment of the situation and prospects of today’s young people compared to their parents.

Ipsos Australia Director, David Elliott, said: “The findings showing Australians’ optimism for youth regarding access to information and entertainment and being able to travel are not surprising as they essentially reflect the improved access that comes with technological advancement.

“The more encouraging result from a societal perspective is the 39% net score for ‘being free to be true to yourself’, particularly as it is up 14% on the 2016 figure. This likely reflects a greater societal shift in our acceptance of others regardless of their beliefs, sexuality, race or religion and is a reminder to us that despite the societal divisions we might hear about in the media, we are generally pretty accepting of others. The huge response we are seeing from people across the country donating their time, money, and property to those affected by bushfires is a great example of how we can come together as Australians, and a great reminder of what we can achieve when we do.

“Also, somewhat unsurprising were the results in terms of those dimensions that we were most pessimistic about for our youth.  Concerns about the financial future of our youth are not new, and given the global findings, aren’t unique to Australia. We see these types of concerns regularly in other Ipsos studies, such as the Ipsos Issues Monitor, where we the cost of living, the economy, housing and crime consistently rate among the top issues facing the nation.  With no clear policy or communication from our leaders about how to tackle these issues it makes sense that we are worried about what it will be like for our youth.

“What was particularly interesting in this study was that while we might be concerned about the pessimism we see among the advanced economies of the world, we can - and should - be encouraged by the optimism we see among the emerging countries regarding the physical safety, and financial wellbeing outlook for their youth.”

 

About the study:

  • These are the results of an Ipsos survey conducted between November 22 and December 31, 2019 on the Global Advisor online platform among 22,285 adults aged 18-74 in Australia, the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong and Turkey and 16-74 in 25 other markets.
  • The sample consists of approximately 1000+ individuals in each of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the U.S., and approximately 500+ individuals in each of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, the Philippines, Poland Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey.
  • The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the U.S. can be taken as representative of these countries’ general adult population under the age of 75.
  • The samples in Brazil, Chile, China (mainland), Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Peru, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these markets should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of these population.
  • The data is weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.
  • Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.
  • The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.8 percentage points.

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