Poll: Students optimistic despite money doubts

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WASHINGTON (AP)—For young people who came of age in the recession, the American dream of life getting better for each new generation feels like a myth.

A majority expect to have a harder time buying a house and saving for retirement than their parents did. More than 4 in 10 predict it will be tougher to raise a family and afford the lifestyle they want, according to an Associated Press-Viacom poll of Americans ages 18 to 24.

Only about a fourth expect things to be easier for them than the previous generation—a cherished goal of many hardworking parents. High unemployment has left lots of young lives in limbo.

Sounds like a bummer, right? Yet most young adults are shrugging it off. Despite financial disappointments, they overwhelmingly say they’re happy with their lives, much more so than older folks in similar surveys.

Youthful optimism—with perhaps a touch of naivete—lives on. A whopping 90 percent expect to find careers that will bring them happiness, if not wealth.

Young people today are more pessimistic about their economic futures than young adults according to a similar poll in April 2007, eight months before the recession began. And most say they cannot afford the things they want or are struggling at least a little to make their money last through each week. About half are dependent on family members for financial support.

And they’re not just worried about themselves; 7 out of 10 fret about their parents’ finances. About 20 percent saw a parent laid off during the past year and a half.

Money troubles are steering the course of young lives. A majority say finances were a key factor in deciding whether to continue their educations past high school and, if they did, which college to attend, and what kind of career to seek.

The survey was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications.

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