Ungreening a generation?

Ashraf Choudhury writes:

The Futures Company has quite strong views on Millennials, which have been covered in posts here in the past. So when I noticed an academic paper (opens pdf) from San Diego State University, which argued – on the basis of a 30-year tracking study – that Millennials (the generation born in the late ‘80s or so) are much less politically and environmentally engaged than previous generations – it seemed to be fuel for the fire. The data – as analysed by the San Diego State University researcher Jean Twenge – are striking.

So I shared it internally and on our trends site, Trend and Tonic, from where it was picked up by the San Diego paper, U-T San Diego. This was how their reporter called it:

That downbeat assessment raises an important question about the future of green: Will the next wave of leaders care enough about the natural world to maintain momentum that has been won in courtrooms and boardrooms over decades?

One of the good things about American reporters is that they do expect to report, and Mike Lee, who wrote the story, took the trouble to call me and my colleague Lawrence Wykes, who worked on our Millennials segmentation, to canvas our views. The segmentation suggests it’s unhelpful to generalise about a generation, and that there are strong differences in attitudes within it. Two of our segments do rank poorly on political and environmental engagement, but one segment in particular (the ‘Spirits’, who comprise 25% of Millennials in the US) rank very high on this same measure of environmental and political engagement.

It’s also possible that there’s a research effect going on here – that different generations understand the questions differently. And the SDSU study has clearly touched a nerve with Millennials and environmental groups. Either way, this one has some distance yet to run.

The picture at the top of the post is from the environmental campaign site Zoe and is used with thanks.

1 Comment

  1. thenextwavefutures

    Lothar Fritsch added this comment to this post elsewhere on the blog:

    There is no reason at all that any age cohort at all should be homogenous. It makes no sense at all. That is why we segment markets.

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