Photo credit: monodot (http://www.flickr.com/photos/monodot/143957502/sizes/o/in/photostream/)

The poor perception of young people

8@youthforum.org'

David Kingman

As a researcher at the Intergenerational Foundation, a London-based think-tank, David conducts research into the imbalances between the older and younger generations. The Intergenerational Foundation exists to promote the rights of younger and future generations in British policy making.


photo courtesy of monodotAi??| issue #.03 / 2011
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Young people face many barriers to political representation in modern Europe. Chief among them is the demographic dominance of older voters at the ballot box, where the fact that they vote in greater numbers than young people gives politicians an incentive to pander to their interests.

This effect has been especially pronounced in British politics. At the 2005 General Election for the UK parliament, a majority of the people who voted in 268 out of 650 seats were aged 55 or over. Representing the powerful ai???grey voteai???, such electors have an enormous incentive to cast their ballot ai???defensivelyai???, throwing their weight behind political parties who offer to shield their pensions and other benefits from reform.

This trend disenfranchises young people, making it less politically rewarding for the major parties to offer policies that address their needs with regard to education, jobs, housing and so on. Yet there is also a broader problem with trying to get the older generation to listen to young peoplesai??i?? views: they simply donai??i??t view them with enough respect.

For its first major piece of research, Intergenerational Foundation attempted to quantify how young people are viewed across different European countries.

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order tadalafil, zithromax online. Ai??A broader problem with trying to get the older generation to listen to young peoplesai??i?? views: they simply donai??i??t view them with enough respect.

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To accomplish this, we drew upon the results of the European Social Survey, which analysed the attitudes of 2,000 adults across the age range in 29 European countries (including Israel and former Communist states). The survey of almost 57,000 respondents revealed that in nearly all these countries, the older generation is viewed much more positively than people in their 20s are.

In the part of the survey that our study analysed, respondents had been given two versions of a statement attributing a certain characteristic to a particular age-group, and asked how strongly they agreed with them.

One of the main questions asked respondents how strongly they agreed with the two statements: ai???most people view people in their 20s with respectai??? and ai???most people view people in their 70s with respect.ai??? The same trend emerged across all 29 countries ai??i?? everywhere, people in their 20s were viewed with less respect than those in their 70s.

Peoplesai??i?? responses were scored on an ascending scale of 0-4 (4 very likely to be viewed with respect; 0 not viewed with respect), and in almost all of the countries the average level of agreement was above 3 for the statement that applied to people in their 70s, but below 2.5 for the one referring to those in their 20s.Ai?? Israel was the only country where the result for both the 70s and 20s was close.

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Ai??A clear gap exists between how modern Europe views its older and younger generations.

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Respondents in Germany had the second-lowest levels of respect for people in their 20s, at about 1.7, while results in the Netherlands, France and Spain were at or very near 2.0. Respondents in Portugal displayed the highest level of respect for the younger generation (although even they scored only 2.8).

The survey also examined whether people in these two age-groups are viewed as being competent. Obviously, this has ramifications in the sphere of political representation, because you have to believe someone is competent in order to deem it worth airing their views around the discussion-table.

The picture here was a little more mixed, as in a small number of countries those in their 20s were viewed with much higher levels of competence than those in their 70s; this was the case in Greece, Israel, Turkey, Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Croatia. However, in most of Western Europe, the young were considered to have less competence, with particularly stark differences recorded in Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Great Britain.

The full report examined a number of additional characteristics, but the overwhelming trend that emerged suggested a clear gap exists between how modern Europe views its older and younger generations. On average, those in their 20s were given pretty short shrift, despite the fact that they represent Europeai??i??s future. If young people want to start having their needs and views taken more seriously in an ageing society, changing these attitudes will be an important first step.

8@youthforum.org'

David Kingman

As a researcher at the Intergenerational Foundation, a London-based think-tank, David conducts research into the imbalances between the older and younger generations. The Intergenerational Foundation exists to promote the rights of younger and future generations in British policy making.
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