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Cynicism on the rise among Finland’s youth

Just over half of young adults see a sunny future, says the latest Youth Barometer, an annual survey of 15 to 29 years olds in Finland released on Tuesday.

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Image: Julian Stratenschulte / EPA

The 2016 Youth Barometer suggests that only 55 percent of Finland’s 15 to 29 year olds feel their future prospects are bright. The groups behind the survey say the increasingly cynical phenomenon is linked to issues of societal cohesion and the prevailing economic situation.

The young people surveyed say they support the Finnish welfare state wholeheartedly, but are very doubtful about its future.

"They want social benefits to continue, but at the same time suspect that the system won’t survive," says Sami Myllyniemi, a researcher with the Youth Research Network, one of the groups behind the annual barometer.

While 83 percent of Finland’s youth look upon their own future optimistically, only 25 percent are confident in a bright future for the world as a whole, this year's survey shows.

I have a dream, but it won't come true

One of the most central observations of the 2016 barometer results is the rapid upsurge in cynicism and distrust. Boys and young men’s trust in particular has fallen dramatically.

The survey found that today’s Finnish youth hope for improvements in equality and the state of the environment, but don’t really believe that such advancements will occur.

The aspirations of Finland’s young adults haven’t changed significantly over the years. Maintaining good relationships and getting a good job are still highly valued. Yet fewer youth today are interested in attaining such things as a permanent position, owner-occupied home, a car, family and children.

International friends, but no more foreigners

Attitudes towards migrants are also growing more positive among young people. More and more people responding to the survey report having friends from other countries, and placing less importance on skin colour and place of origin.

"Very few of the people surveyed have racist tendencies and their relationship to migrants is more natural; skin colour is not so relevant," Myllyniemi says.

Despite this, however, fewer of the young people responding would like greater numbers of foreigners to enter Finland.

The Youth Barometer is a publication series assessing the values and attitudes of young people aged 15 to 29 living in Finland. The barometer has been conducted every year since 1994.

The 2016 Youth Barometer is based on 1,901 telephone interviews, and this year’s theme was the future.

The barometer is produced by Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish Youth Research Network, and the national Advisory Council for Youth Affairs (Nuora), a consultative body in child and youth policy appointed by the government.

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