CSC launches survey to track millennials, Gen Z views on democracy and capitalism

5.31.2022 Capitalism, Center for the Study of Capitalism , Faculty News, News Release
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The Center for the Study of Capitalism (CSC) at the Wake Forest University School of Business, in partnership with YouGov, has initiated a multi-year survey to track the perspectives of American millennials and members of Generation Z on democracy and capitalism over the next decade.

The “Confidence in Capitalism” survey provides insights into how the two generations perceive capitalism and its relationship to democracy.

“We want to understand how their views about these systems change over time and influence their perceptions about the role of business and government in society,” said Christina Elson, John A. Allison Executive Director, Center for the Study of Capitalism, and lead researcher on the project. “In a few years, these generations will make up over half of the workforce. We believe employers need to understand their views and the conditions they consider essential for their well-being.”

The initial survey results were collected in 2021 and based on a sample of 1,999 respondents ages 18 to 40, grouped into three categories: older Gen Z (18-24), younger millennials (25-31) and older millennials (32-40).

“The survey results will help business leaders make decisions about where to focus their attention and resources as they think about how to engage with both demographics” said Kylie King, Associate Professor of Analytics & Entrepreneurship at Chaplain College and Co-Director of the survey.

Key findings from the first phase of the survey include:

  • Millennials and Gen Zs support core ideals of economic freedom. More than two-thirds say they value competition, hard work, and being able to negotiate pay at whatever rate the market will bear.
  • Many millennials think markets are unfair and hard work is not enough to succeed. About 60% think entrepreneurs are successful because they start businesses using existing resources from parents or family.
  • About 40% of young Americans think that morality and human nature are hard set, and that these things can’t change and develop significantly over time.
  • Older millennials may be shifting away from very liberal views towards more moderate ones as they age and accumulate life experience.

Initial findings were presented April 26 and 27 at the inaugural Future of Capitalism Summit in Winston-Salem. The summit encouraged intimate conversations with diverse thinkers about capitalism’s current challenges and future ability to generate innovation, strong and sustainable communities, a healthy environment, and economic opportunity for all.

The full report is available on the CSC website.


Media Contact: Danyelle Gary, garyd@wfu.edu, 336.582.0622