Study shows fears of young people in times of crisis

Young people are suffering in the current world situation: a new study shows deteriorating mental health and worries about the future – a warning sign, the researchers say.

Climate change, corona pandemic, war in Ukraine, inflation – some crises are currently shaking up world events. Of course, young people are also affected, and in the longer term. The certainty of not being able to spend the future in the same prosperity as the parents’ generation is slowly gaining ground.

Warning signal: Mental depression in young people

What already seems threatening when listed in this way becomes even clearer when summarized in figures. As part of the Trend study “Youth in Germany” 25 percent of respondents described their mental health as unsatisfactory. 16 percent describe helplessness, 10 percent indicate suicidal thoughts. All numbers have increased since the last trend study in May 2022. “We see this as an urgent warning signal,” conclude the authors of the study, Simon Schnetzer and Klaus Hurrelmann. “It cannot be overlooked that many young people’s psychological defenses are exhausted and the risk factors are multiplying.” The researchers believe that support is urgently needed.

course of the study

But back to the beginning: “Youth in Germany” examines the extent to which the world situation is affecting young people. Every six months, youth researcher Simon Schnetzer and sociologist Prof. Dr. Klaus Hurrelmann from the Hertie School Berlin German-speaking 14 to 29 year olds via an online portal. There are also group interviews on current trend topics. A total of 1,027 young people were surveyed this October. This is the fifth time the study has been conducted. All evaluations build on each other so that changes can be made clear. The project received support from Kilian Hampel. He is a research associate at the University of Konstanz.

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Biggest concerns of the young generation

This time, the study confirms the fears of young people that prosperity is ending in Germany. Quality of life, the economic situation, social cohesion and political conditions are currently perceived to be significantly worse than they were six months ago. At the same time, expectations of the future are falling. The young people in the trend study state inflation as the greatest concern at 71 percent. This was followed by war in Europe at 64 percent and climate change at 55 percent. The economic crisis, the energy shortage and poverty in old age also reach values ​​of around 50 percent. With regard to the war in Ukraine, more than two-thirds of the young generation fear price increases and money devaluation as well as rising energy and raw material prices. 44 percent are also worried about an increase in refugees. There is also the fear that the war will spread to Germany. Although only a minority fears being drawn into the war themselves, the situation in Ukraine has left its mark on the 14 to 29-year-olds.

Trend study “Youth in Germany – Winter 2022/23” / Simon Schnetzer and Prof. Dr. Klaus Hurrelman

effects of financial worries

Inflation is particularly noticeable in food, electricity and gas. Although some of those surveyed still live with their parents and can cushion the situation as a result, there is talk of stress overall. 78 percent of the students describe problems caused by rising electricity and gas prices. In the case of schoolchildren, the figure is at least 65 percent. 20 percent of those surveyed also state debt.

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Accordingly, the demands on one’s own future have also changed. At 60 percent, money is the greatest requirement of the profession. The gap between having fun (43 percent) and achieving goals (33 percent) is large. With just over 20 percent approval, the meaningfulness of the work and recognition follow. “[Geld steht] for security in times of crisis and for many represents the basic requirement for achievement motivation,” explains study author Schnetzer.

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