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Compared to age-matched Millennials, fewer Gen Z members are thriving and more Gen Z members describe their mental health as “excellent,” according to a new study. A report from Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation found that “Less than half (47%) of Gen Z Americans are well-lived in life, the lowest of any generation in America today. That percentage is much lower than that of Millennials of the same age.” The survey, released Thursday, aims to give Gen Z a voice on the important issues they face. Researchers surveyed more than 3,000 people aged 12 to 26 in April and May of this year.
The researchers said the key indicators are measures of whether people are thriving, struggling, or suffering. Respondents were asked to rate how they viewed their current and future lives and were defined as thriving if they gave high ratings in both categories. The study found that only 41% of Gen Z members between the ages of 18 and 26 are thriving financially, while millennials at the same age are thriving at a rate of about 60%. However, it is important to note that generational research is controversial, with scholars arguing that generational labels are harmful and unscientific. The Pew Research Center has also noted that some trends that appear to be generational shifts are actually life-stage and age-based differences that can change over time.
Compared to today’s older generations, Gen Z is much more likely to report experiencing negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and loneliness, according to a Gallup and WFF study. The researchers also said they found “evidence that Gen Z’s self-reported mental health concerns differ from those of previous generations at the same age.” When asked about their current mental health and well-being, only 15% of Gen Z members between the ages of 18 and 26 said they felt good. This is a significant decrease from 10 years ago when 52% of millennials in the same age group said they were in good mental health. Researchers noted that an overall decline in mental health over the past decade may be partially to blame.
This study is not the first to focus on Gen Z’s mental health concerns. Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that poor mental health remains a “significant public health problem” for adolescents, especially teenage girls. A 2018 report from the American Psychological Association found that Gen Zers are more likely than other generations to believe their mental health is fair or poor. Despite these challenges, the survey found that more than three-quarters of Gen Z agree that they have a great future ahead of them. However, fewer than half of Gen Z members feel prepared for the future.
The study also examined other issues such as the affordability of higher education and concerns about gun violence in schools. It found that nearly half of Gen Z students who want to pursue higher education believe they can afford it and 40% believe that gun violence in schools is a concern. “Earning enough money to live comfortably” was cited as Gen Z’s most frequently mentioned future hope.
The researchers concluded that this study is the first report on a nationally representative group, but they plan to continue surveying members of Generation Z in the future to provide more data to policy makers.