Data dive: Gen Z myths vs. realities

In five infographics, we uncover some surprising opinions of those coming of age amid climate change, inflation, pandemic and war.

Ipsos | Generations | Gen Z
The author(s)
  • Melissa Dunne Public Affairs
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Kids today.

Generation Zers* are sometimes slammed as being self-centered sensitive slackers —as were Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers when they were younger.

The reality is kids today are growing up in the midst of a polycrisis (climate change, inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine) that’s definitely shaping their lives and potentially influencing their worldview.

Every generation is, of course, much more complex and diverse than the myths that sprout up around them. And Ipsos’ new global report, We Need to Talk About Generations, digs much deeper into the differences and similarities between Gen Zers and the older cohorts ahead of them.

As more Gen Zers start to step off campuses and into their first post-collegiate jobs we look at what our recent Global Advisor polling reveals about how this fresh-faced group currently feels about a range of age-old issues, from religion to sex.

  1. Myth:
    The biggest issue most young people have to grapple with today is which video to post as they work on the steps to their next viral dance routine with their besties.

    Reality:
    Many Gen Zers and younger Millennials are struggling with stress and mental health issues during these tumultuous times.

    Almost half (44%, on average across 32 countries) of Gen Zers say they are facing or had recently faced a difficult personal situation that they couldn’t resolve by themselves versus just 25% of Boomers who say the same.

    And close to the same percentage (43%) of Gen Zers say they recently experienced a deeply disturbing or distressing event that prevented them from feeling good about their life vs. 30% of Boomers.

    Ipsos | Genz 1
  2. Myth:
    Gen Zers solely worship at the altar of social media and have no need for religion or spirituality the way older generations did.

    Reality:
    While Ipsos’ recent polling across 26 countries finds almost 1 in 3 Gen Zers (31%, on average across 26 countries vs. 37% of Boomers) say they never go to a place of worship, a much higher proportion say they believe in God/a higher power (64% vs. 55% of Boomers), heaven (59% vs. 41% of Boomers), supernatural spirits (56% vs. 35% of Boomers), hell (49% vs. 28% of Boomers) and the devil (48% vs. 29% of Boomers) compared to older people.Ipsos | Genz 2

  3. Myth:
    Gen Zers are the most woke generation yet and aren’t afraid to call out oldsters for their sexist behaviour online and IRL.

    Reality:Ipsos polling across 32 countries for International Women’s Day 2023 finds Gen Zers are more likely to define themselves as feminists (45%, on average across 32 countries, vs. 35% of Boomers).

    Despite identifying as feminists, almost half (48%) of Gen Zers are afraid to speak out and advocate for the equal rights of women because of what might happen, compared to just 23% of Boomers who say the same.Ipsos | Genz 3

  4. Myth:
    Gen Zers are happily (and endlessly) swiping right on dating apps with an anything goes ethos.

    Reality:
    Gen Zers in some countries have only known a world where they could quickly find dinner and a date on their smartphones, but the endless options aren’t necessarily leading to satisfying love connections.

    Global Ipsos polling for Valentine’s Day finds 73% of Gen Zers vs. 80% of Boomers say they feel loved. And 59% of Gen Zers say they’re satisfied with their romantic/sex lives vs. 68% of Millennials.Ipsos | Genz 4

  5. Myth:
    Like 20-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, young people believe making drastic changes will help stop climate change for their generation and Generation Alpha coming up behind them.

    Reality:
    Gen Zers are often portrayed in the media as being the greenest generation ever, but Ipsos polling for Earth Day 2023 finds about a quarter of them are pretty pessimistic about taking action in a world already seeing severe impacts from climate change.

    In fact, about 1 in 4 Gen Zers (26%, on average across 29 countries) and 25% of Millennials don’t think there’s any point to changing their behaviour to fight climate change, compared to 20% of Gen Xers and 17% of Boomers who say the same.Ipsos | Genz 5

The author(s)
  • Melissa Dunne Public Affairs

Society