China's Generation Y is optimistic, apolitical and eco-friendly, survey shows

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

China's millennials are among the world's most optimistic and conscious of the environment in a region where optimism is scarce and at a time when their counterparts around the world expect them to lead global economic growth.

These findings are the results of a survey of more than 12,000 people between 18 and 30 years old across 27 countries. The study, published on Tuesday by Spain's biggest telephone company Telefonica and the Financial Times newspaper, is the largest global poll among young adults. 

Among those surveyed, most had college educations, jobs and no children.

Economic leadership

Asked which country would drive the world economy in the next years, 58 per cent pointed to China and only 31 per cent chose the US, currently the largest economy worldwide. China could overtake the US as soon as 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a report in March.

Almost all of the young adults surveyed in China, 93 per cent, said they were optimistic their country's best days were still ahead. In South Korea, only 77 per cent expressed the same sentiment. In India, 81 per cent did. 

Pessimism dominates in North America, where only 47 per cent expect their future to be bright. In Western Europe, it's only 41 per cent and in Japan, the pessimists make up 81 per cent, the highest in the world.

Opportunities and values

Two-thirds of the Chinese millennials said they believed they had an opportunity to become an entrepreneur in their country. In South Korea only 56 per cent and in Japan, only 48 per cent said so.

Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia and India topped the ranking on entrepreneurial opportunities. Nine in 10 Saudis and Indians thought they had a good chance to start businesses in their countries, even though both countries don't rank high in the Global Entrepreneurship Development Index, a global survey on the ease of starting a business.

Only one-third of the Chinese millennials surveyed said their country did not represent their values and beliefs, whereas in Japan three-fourths and in South Korea two-thirds said they could not identify with their government.

Europeans were most critical of their governments. Nine in 10 Italians and eight in 10 Spaniards and Czechs disapproved of their respective governments.

Chinese concerns

Chinese millennials were, however, not blindly bullish about their future. Two-thirds thought that technological progress widens the wealth gap. Japanese and South Koreans were even more critical of technology.

Almost twice as many Chinese millennials, 67 per cent, said climate change was "a pressing issue" than their American counterparts did. Concern among the Chinese surveyed ranked higher than anywhere else but in Latin America.