Better Behaved Generation

This report, the latest in the Ipsos MORI Thinks series, pulls together existing and new analysis, as well as brand new research on this latest generation, to provide a better understanding of the initial signals on how they will be different to, or the same as, previous generations.

  • Millennials are old news, with a new generation of young (those born from 1996 onwards) hitting adulthood.  A major new report from Ipsos MORI explores what’s really different about this generation.
  • Contrary to many clichés about today’s young, our new survey data and analysis reveals a better behaved, more trusting, socially minded, and less materialistic generation. 

Analysis of Ipsos MORI’s Veracity Index shows a stunning cohort shift in trust levels between UK Generation Z and Millennials. Generation Z are nearly twice as trusting of other people than Millennials were at the same age (61% in 2017 compared to 36% in 2002).  In fact, this brings Gen Z back into line with other generations – it was Millennials who had trust issues

Data from Ipsos MORI’s Young People Omnibus among school children in Britain, shows there has been a cohort shift towards higher social activism. 46% of 14-16 year olds say they have given their time to help out people in the community in the past two years, compared with just 30% in 2005. 29% are regularly active in their neighborhood, community or an ethnic organization compared with just 10% in 2005.

  • Despite pressure of a harder economic context, there has been a cohort shift away from materialistic values. For example, 30% of schoolchildren feel the things they own say a lot about how well they are doing in life, compared with 42% in 2011.
  • Comparing new data from the Young People Omnibus, to data from 2004, shows they’re actually are far less worried about all sorts of behavior. For example, 72% of adolescents think smoking cannabis is very risky, compared to 84% of Millennial teenagers in 2004. They’re also less likely to think unprotected sex is risky (57% compared to 63%), less worried about walking alone at night in strange areas (57% think it is very risky compared to 67%) and less likely to see smoking as high-risk (70% compared to 76% of Millennials in 2004).

The report also brings together existing analysis in one place to provide a full picture of their lives, which points to how much more fluid many of their views are:

  • Gen Z are significantly less likely to be interested in products that are targeted at just one gender than even Millennials are; business needs to keep up with this more fluid view, not putting people in boxes.
  • There has been an 11% drop in daily consumption of soft-drinks in adolescents between 2002 and 2015 (from 28% to 18%) across 32 European countries.
  • ButGen Z teenagers are half as likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity as Millennials were in 2008.
  • There’s been a huge drop in trust in online news sites since 2010. Only half of kids aged 12-15 believe most or all of what they see on news websites and apps compared to 87% of children the same age in 2010. 

Bobby Duffy, Chairman of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute and author of the reportsaid:

  • Gen Z are the new focus of attention, and often wild speculation. Most of them are still very young, with the oldest only just reaching their early 20s, but they are already the subject of spurious claims and myths about who they are and what they’re going to be.
  • They face some really tough conditions, particularly in Western countries like Britain – a tough economy, rapidly changing labor market, all-encompassing technology that brings new threats as well as opportunities, polarized politics and long-term trends like increasing obesity. 
  • But so many positive aspects shine through from our study – their interest in social action and ethical consumption, their trust in others, their dropping of some past bad habits, their openness to difference on sexuality, gender and immigration.
  • Putting a whole generation into a box is never smart, but it’s particularly unhelpful with this varied and fluid generation. 



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