During the 2017 Election debates, Caroline Lucas (the co-leader of the Green Party) asserted that “the first rule of leadership is to turn up” and with record turnout from voters, it seems that this rule applied to democracy in the recent election, with record turnout reported. Although the final figures have yet to be released, early figures estimate that 67.8% of those eligible to vote turned up to place their cross in the box. And it seems that even though turnout increased across all age groups, much has been reported in the media around the higher levels of engagement around younger age groups – with Sky estimating that 66.4% of 18-24s voted in this election, compared to 58% in the 2015 election.
While we could debate the reasons for this all day, from a rejection of hubris, through to celeb encouragement and policies specifically targeting different age groups, I was reminded of our Future of Generations study released last year that looked at the social values of different generations in the UK. We found that while nearly six in ten of the population argue that they are concerned about social issues in the UK today, this peaked amongst the youngest age groups:
It seems that our current teens are more concerned about societal issues than the rest of us and that as we reach our mid-twenties, possibly having jobs, mortgages, children and other financial responsibilities, looking after our families takes over from concern about social issues.
And the concern younger groups have about the world around them is also bleeding into the rest of their lives. Our Future of Generations study also found that teens are uncompromising in their demands of the companies that they choose to let into their lives. We found that those aged under 25 are more likely than any other group to want the best product from a company that not only does brilliant design with high quality at a decent price, but also does good stuff for people. They are the most likely group to have higher awareness of the brands that do social good or have a purpose and also are the most likely to say that the social values of a brand influence their brand choice.
There is clearly a lot to learn from this – only time will tell if this social engagement will be maintained across all groups, and particularly for the young, and it is possible, of course, that teens have always been more concerned with the world around us than the rest of us and what we’re seeing is a cohort effect rather than a trend but it is, of course, hugely encouraging that we are seeing signs of a new generation that are becoming re-engaged with politics and society.