Understanding the Perspectives of Young People Around the World

A new Ipsos study for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers campaign highlights key differences on optimism, attitudes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what people around the world want their leaders to focus on.

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, September 24, 2018 — Globally, young people are more optimistic about the future than older generations, according to a new Ipsos poll on behalf of the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers campaign. Across all 15 countries surveyed, young people expect a brighter future for themselves, their country, and the world, than adults. Furthermore, levels of optimism are highest in low and middle-income countries, and young people in these countries are the most optimistic group, across all measures. For example, eight in ten 12-24 year olds in low and middle-income countries (79%) say they are optimistic about the future of the world, compared with half of 12-24 year olds in higher income countries.

Those in low and middle-income countries are also more likely to believe they can make a difference in how their countries are governed. Overall, 4 in 10 adults (age 16+ in most countries) and half of youth (age 12-15 in most countries) agree with this sentiment, though majorities in India, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil, and Mexico believe they can play a role in governance. In the U.S., adults are evenly split on whether they can make a difference (35%) or not (34%). This optimism around governance is in spite of the fact that just 1 in 4 adults (23%) and 30% of youth worldwide believe their political leaders care about “people like me.”

People of all ages in low and middle-income countries are far more likely to agree that “my generation will have a more positive impact on the world than my parents,” (63%) compared with people in higher income countries (39%). In both groups of countries, youth are more likely to agree than older people. When it comes to policy priorities, ending poverty (33%), improving education (31%), and access to jobs (27%) are the top Sustainable Development Goals for leaders to focus on worldwide. Those in low and middle-income countries place more emphasis on improving education (41%, compared to 21% in high income), whole those in higher income countries are more likely to cite climate change as a top priority (24%, compared to 9% in low and middle-income). Improving education is a significant priority for younger people, particularly in low and middle-income countries, where nearly half of people aged 12-24 (46%) see it as a priority.

Across all countries, women are more likely than men to agree that “life is better for men and boys than women and girls.” The difference is more pronounced in higher income countries, where 49% of women agree compared to 37% of men (in low and medium-income countries, 45% of women and 43% of men agree). However, those in low and medium-income countries are more apt to believe living conditions for women and girls will get better over the next 15 years (61%, versus 41% in higher income countries).

About this Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of the Gates Foundation. 40,506 interviews were conducted between July 9, 2018 and August 22, 2018.

The survey was conducted in 15 countries among youth and adults ages 12 and up. Markets include: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and the United States. Interviews were conducted online in most markets, with the exceptions of India, Kenya, and Nigeria, where interviewing was done face-to-face.

Approximately 500 youth interviews (age 12-15, except in the United States, Kenya and Nigeria where youth is defined as 12-17) were conducted per market, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, where approximately 200 youth interviews were conducted. Approximately 2,000-2,300 individuals aged 16+ (18+ in the United States) were surveyed, for a total of 33,354 adult interviews across all markets.

Weighting has been employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval of 2,000 accurate to +/- 2.5 percentage points and 500 accurate to +/- 4.5 percentage points. For more information on Ipsos’ use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website. The precision of Ipsos polls using face-to-face methodologies is calculated using a margin of error, with a poll of 2,000 accurate to +/- 2.0 percentage points and 500 accurate to +/- 4 percentage points.

In 6 of the 12 countries where interviewing was done online, internet penetration is sufficiently high to think of the samples as representative of the wider population within the age ranges covered: Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden and the U.S. The 3 face-to-face countries are also nationally representative. Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have lower levels of internet penetration and so these samples should not be considered to be fully nationally representative, but instead to represent a more affluent, connected population. These are still a vital social group to understand in these countries, representing an important and emerging middle class.

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Mallory Newall
Director, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. Through our media partnerships, Ipsos Public Affairs is a leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and internationally. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.
With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs