LOOKING FOR MORE ON GEN Z?
Get a downloadable report with the latest Gen Z data here.
For Americans who came of age during the Great Depression, habits that formed during that period never fully left them, even decades after the economy had recovered and the world had shifted gears. New Deal voters formed one of the most lasting political coalitions in American history, transforming expectations of the role government could play in people’s lives. Consumers who had experienced destitution remained financially vigilant, saving and squirreling away goods, always aware that the good times might not last. These enduring impacts were pivotal in shaping a generation and the contours of the nation.
It was with that in mind that Morning Consult launched this tracking report in May to better understand how the coronavirus outbreak, another potentially era-defining and generation-altering moment, would impact Gen Z’s worldview. Then, less than a month after launch, yet another seismic event occurred: the death of George Floyd while in police custody and the subsequent protest movement it inspired. As such, we’re broadening the scope of this report to look more generally at how the tumult of 2020 — a pandemic, recession, protests, the upcoming election and more — is shaping this young generation’s habits, values and outlook on the world.
The research will cover a range of topics, including politics, consumer habits, trust in institutions, career expectations and more. The results are based on a tracking survey of 1,000 Americans ages 13-23 and will be updated periodically on this page.
⇾ Gen Z now sees the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement as the two most impactful events of their lifetimes: 75 percent of Gen Z respondents say the coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on their worldview, and 68 percent say the same about the Black Lives Matter movement, up 21 points since April.
⇾ Trust in institutions is falling across the board: In just two months, the average trust rating for 15 major institutions Morning Consult is tracking has dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent. The largest declines are with the police (24-point drop in trust), the U.S. government (-17), the criminal justice system (-14) and the news media (-13).
⇾ Gen Zers are less optimistic about the future, but increasingly believe they can shape it: Just 19 percent of Gen Z respondents say the U.S. is heading in the right direction, down 12 points since May. And 52 percent are generally optimistic about the future of the country, down six points since May. At the same time, 62 percent of Gen Zers agree they have the potential to impact the world, up 6 points since May.
⇾ The vast majority of Gen Z supports Black Lives Matter and took at least one action related to recent protests: 12 percent attended a protest, 41 percent posted on social media, and 46 percent have made an effort to learn more about actions they can take to support racial justice. Just 22 percent say they have not taken any action related to the protests.
⇾ As the political climate shifts, Trump’s election grows in significance for Gen Z: 63 percent of Gen Z says that President Trump’s election has made a major impact on their worldview, up 8 points from April. Among just Gen Z Democrats, 79 percent say his election has made a major impact, up 11 points from April.
⇾ Gen Z respondents of all stripes say the coronavirus outbreak has influenced their outlook: Whether looking at race, gender, partisanship, or education level, at least 7 in 10 members of each major sub-demographic group say the pandemic has impacted their worldview.
⇾ Gen Z has a growing sense they can impact the world: 62 percent of Gen Z agree they have that potential, up from 56 percent in May, and 10 points higher than the share of millennials who say the same.
⇾ In control of their own destiny: 85 percent of Gen Z say their future is determined by choices they make or things they can control, while 15 percent say their future is more determined by luck or fate.
⇾ Trust in police falls dramatically amid protests: 44 percent of Gen Z trust the police, down 24 points from April. That level of trust is far lower than it is among the adult population (73 percent).
⇾ Just 7 percent of Gen Z puts “a lot” of trust in people of positions of power. Furthermore, the share who put at least “some” trust in people of positions of power dropped 10 points since May, from 53 to 43 percent.
⇾ Just 5 percent of Gen Z “strongly” agrees that the world is a fair place, while 12 percent “somewhat” agree, 24 percent “somewhat” disagree and 48 percent “strongly” disagree.
⇾ Trust in the news media continues to slide: The share of Gen Z members who say they trust the news media fell 13 percentage points between April and June.
⇾ 82 percent of Gen Z agrees that racism is a major problem in America, and 79 percent agree that Black Americans are frequently discriminated against in the United States.
⇾ 74 percent of Gen Z says people their age are generally less racist than older generations. White members of Gen Z (76 percent) are 10 points more likely than Black members (66 percent) to agree with that statement.
⇾ 54 percent of Gen Z supports the movement to defund the police, compared to 36 percent of all adults. Among just Gen Z Democrats, 88 percent support the movement.
⇾ 8 in 10 white Gen Zers say the protests made them more aware of race-related issues in America: 48 percent say “much” more aware and 32 percent say “somewhat” more aware. Among white adult Americans, 28 percent say the protests made them “much” more aware of race-related issues, and 33 percent say “somewhat” more.
⇾ Black and female members of Gen Z were more likely to participate in #BlackOutTuesday: 54 percent of Black Gen Zers participated in the social media campaign to raise awareness of racial injustice., compared to 36 percent of white Gen Zers. Additionally, 46 percent of female Gen Zers participated, compared to 31 percent of male Gen Zers.
“Gen Z strongly believes that corporations and their leaders play an important role in this country and as such should use their influence to not only impact political and cultural issues, but also specifically demand action from entities with the power to enact systemic change.
Importantly, how companies meet this generation’s expectations could have real implications for their future viability in terms of both the consumers that support them and the talent they attract. Two-thirds of Gen Z agree that how businesses react and express themselves with regard to Black Lives Matter will permanently affect their decision to buy from them in the future, and slightly more say that the extent to which companies actually deliver on the statements, promises and commitments made today will play a significant role in those purchasing decisions.”
⇾ Gen Z has a notably dimer view of patriotism than older generations: 34 percent of Gen Z has a positive view of patriotism, compared to 42 percent of millennials, 55 percent of Gen X, and 65 percent of boomers.
⇾ Social justice is particularly important for Gen Z: 53 percent of Gen Z has a positive view of social justice, compared to 44 percent of millennials, 39 percent of Gen X, and 40 percent of boomers.
⇾ Among voting-age Gen Zers, a majority say recent protests make them more likely to vote for Biden: 53 percent of 18-23 year-olds say the Black Lives Matter protests have made them more likely to vote for Joe Biden, and just 13 percent say they’re more likely to vote for Trump. Among all adults, 43 percent say they’re more likely to vote for Biden and 29 percent say they’re more likely to vote for Trump.
⇾ Most members of Gen Z are concerned about the impact COVID will have on their educations and career prospects: 68 percent are worried the pandemic will impact their education for years to come, and 63 percent say the same about their career prospects.
⇾ Making money and having successful careers is important for Gen Z: 59 percent of Gen Z say that making money is “very” important to them, and 62 percent say the same about having a successful career. The only life goal more important than having a successful career for Gen Z is having time to pursue hobbies (63 percent).
The results on this page are based on three tracking surveys. The first was conducted April 9-12, the second was conducted May 1-3, and the third was conducted June 12-15, 2020. Each surveyed 1,000 13-23 year-olds, and 2,200 U.S. adults (18+). The margin of error for Gen Z is +/- 3 percent and the margin of error for all adults is +/- 3 percent. There is an overlap in the two samples of 18-23 year-olds (adult members of Gen Z).
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