We’ll look at two recent survey reports, one in developing nations and one in the U.S. World Bank researchers interviewed 800 youth who live in eight developing nations, and surveyed more youth ages 11 to 17 in 19 countries, for a report released in 2012. They value education and getting good jobs. A young man from North Sudan explained, “Education lets us join the modern world, and offers us better jobs now; in the past it was not important since our people were farmers and were not paying attention to their future….” Girls admire their hard-working housewife mothers, but want to work outside the home. Boys also wanted their sisters and future wives to have jobs. Although parents also value education, girls may be taken out of school to help at home and boys to make money. In some places no schools are available or it’s not considering safe for girls to travel to school. In the Dominican Republic both genders agree that girls are afraid of getting raped or other violence if they go out.
Girls have less free time than boys for studying because of housework and some may marry and have babies while still school age (common in 11 of the 19 countries surveyed). However, most agreed the ideal time to start a family was 18 or older. A girl from Papua New Guinea reports, “Boys do nothing to help. They look for their friends to tell stories, and roam the streets the whole day, chewing gum, listening to music, sleeping, and resting. Girls take care of all household cores, collect firewood, and fetch water.” Boys’ chores take less time.
This high value on education defines what they think is good or bad behavior—studying and doing well is the top of the list for both boys and girls. For girls, helping at home was the second marker for a good girl, followed by being respectful, obedient, religious, dressing appropriately, staying home rather than wandering, doesn’t have a boyfriend, is hardworking and polite. The worst trait for a girl is roaming around and staying out late. The list of appropriate good behavior for boys is different after the first choice of studying. It’s followed by being respectful, not having vices like drinking and smoking, helps at home, religious, obedient, polite, has good friends, and doesn’t have a girlfriend. The worst behavior for boys is vices. It’s encouraging that both genders don’t see women’s only place as in the home, although girls have less mobility because of safety concerns.
A survey of 1200 young adults in the US, born from 1980 to 1991, about evenly split between male and female, 61% white, and 39% people of color. They tend to focus on relationships with family and friends, to not be religious, and to value doing service for others. They would like to have lots of money but it’s not high on their list of priorities, nor is the environment.
Only 13% of US Millennials surveyed by father and son team Thom and Jess Rainer said spirituality was important to them. However, the authors write later that 75% define themselves as spiritual. Religion isn’t important to them; most (65%) don’t regularly attend worship services, making them the least religious of any generation in modern history. They tend to view institutional religions as irrelevant and too traditional. Many view religion as divisive, but only 6% are atheists and two-thirds consider themselves Christians. The events of 9-11 taught them that life is fragile. They value doing good, making a difference in the world—96% agree that “I believe I can do something great” and they’re motivated to serve others (77%). Mediators, they like to bring people together. %). Many (60%) donate money to nonprofit groups. They report they’re more influenced by music, Internet and TV than religious beliefs.
They look to their Baby Boomer parents as their advisors (89%) who put great belief in their children and taught them they can achieve anything they decide to do. Unlike the Boomers, they respect their elders (94%). Millennials value family above all else (61%), followed by their friends as most important (25%), with education and career in third and fourth place. Relationships are what motivates them. Of course they use electronic devices to communicate frequently and they’re in front of a computer many hours a week. They hope to stay married to one person (86%) and about the same percentage plan to have children, most more than one child.
They are not driven by money (finances were in seventh place in their list of what’s really important) but they’d like to have lots of it (83%). They are not racist, as over one-third of them are people of color. They’re open to mixed marriages between different ethnic backgrounds, as well as same-sex marriage. Most of them voted for President Obama and look to government to provide services like health care and Social Security. In their careers, they want to succeed but they want work and family balance, they want to learn and to have fun, and they want a mentor. Millennials are concerned about the environment but it’s not at the top of their list of concerns.