Study shows young people in Germany are worried about their future

The seventh edition of the trend study “Youth in Germany” sees growing psychological stress and a shift to the far-right among people aged 14 to 29.

Young people in Germany are more pessimistic. This is shown by the results of the seventh edition of the “Youth in Germany” trend study, which provides an insight into the lives and emotions of 14- to 29-year-olds since its first publication in 2020. Almost two years after the end of the Covid pandemic, young people are still concerned about their health and economic situation in the present and future. As a result, right-wing parties such as the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) are finding more favour among the young people surveyed. 

One of the authors of the study is Klaus Hurrelmann, Professor of Public Health and Education at the Hertie School. “We see a clear shift to the right among 14- to 29-year-olds,” Hurrelmann says. “While the parties of the current German government continue to fall in favour, the AfD is becoming particularly popular.” The study team sees the reasons for this in young people's dissatisfaction with their lives and their political situation: 65% of respondents are currently worried about inflation, 54% are concerned about expensive housing, and 48% are afraid of poverty in old age. When it comes to social cohesion, 49% of young people fear social division and 41% are concerned about the reception of refugees. 

Crises influence mental health

Two years after the Covid pandemic, the study also reveals the persistent state of exhaustion among young people. The young respondents state that they suffer from stress (51%), exhaustion (36%) and a feeling of helplessness (17%); 11% are undergoing psychological treatment. Compared to previous studies, some of the values relating to worry and anxiety have risen. “Our study documents a deep-seated mental insecurity with a loss of trust in the ability to influence personal and social living conditions,” says Simon Schnetzer, author and editor of the survey. “The prospect of a good life is dwindling. The big question for all stakeholders in society will be how to inspire young people with a positive vision for the country and involve them in processes of change.”

The study also reveals that 14- to 29-year-olds are ready for change. This is particularly clear in the world of work. According to the survey results, young people have a clear idea of desirable working conditions and are not prepared to accept the same conditions as their parents or the current status quo. At the same time, they expect reform in education, politics and the economy, including comprehensive digitalisation, protection of the environment and educational opportunities. 

Methodology and study background

The “Youth in Germany” trend study is based on a representative online survey of 2,042 people aged between 14 and 29. The sample age group of respondents corresponds to the socio-demographic age structure of the German-speaking population. The survey period for the seventh trend study was 8 January to 12 February 2024. In addition to the survey, a trend lab was conducted as a qualitative research format with a group of young people to interpret the results. The author and managing director of the study is Simon Schnetzer. Prof. Klaus Hurrelmann (Hertie School) and Kilian Hampel (University of Konstanz) are also responsible for the content. The project is supported by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research and the Bilendi Online Access Panel. It is financed through its own sales.

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