The Political Trajectory of Millenials in America

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On March 1st Pew research released a paper outlining the evolution of different generation’s political views over time.

A question that has long been dear to my heart is, is millennial radicalism as compared with boomers a result of their current (relative) youthfulness, and thus likely to fade with time, or is it something more permanent which they will retain all throughout their lives(1). This is one of the most important questions for anyone who wants to know how politics will evolve over the next 20-40 years because if millennials are likely to remain more radical than the boomers, that’s very good news for the left. It likely means that hegemonic neoliberalism is unsustainable, and also the brief resurgence of “populist” nationalism we’ve endured lately is just a blip.

Pew’s report provides data on this question in the US context. In broad terms, the results suggest millennials have been getting more leftwing on “cultural” issues reasonably consistently.

On “Economic” issues they started out more leftwing than they are now, became a bit more rightwing for a while, but have been moving back left again in recent years.

Overall this is very positive news for the left. With everything going to shit in the world at the moment I hope that’s some comfort. I’ve appended the graphs relevant to this question:






(1): In other words, is it an age effect or a cohort effect:

“An aging effect is a change in variable values which occurs among all cohorts independently of time period, as each cohort grows older. A cohort effect is a change which characterizes populations born at a particular point in time, but which is independent of the process of aging. ”

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