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Why Millennials Are Dropping Out

 

Joel Kotkin 

UnHerd, July 15, 2022

“Upwards of 40% of recent college graduates have jobs that don’t require a degree at all. In 2018, half of all college grads made under $30,000 annually, and another recent study suggests that most underemployed graduates remain that way permanently.”

With inflation soaring, trust in governments plummeting, and the global economy teetering on the brink of collapse, one might expect to see the masses out in the streets, calling for the heads of their rulers. But instead of rage and rebellion, we mostly see apathy. Rather than getting radicalised, people are dropping out.

Political alienation is at a high. As headlines proclaim disaster after disaster, from the pandemic to recession to the climate “apocalypse”,  people are losing their faith in the future. In the US, public trust in government is lower today than it was after Watergate, and Americans are disengaging massively from politics on social media and cable news. In the world’s democracies, voter turnout has dropped from an average 80% in the Eighties to closer to 60% today. More than half of that decline reflects generational change. In the US, for instance, citizens between the ages of 18 and 29 typically turn out at a rate more than 10 points lower than those over the age of 30.

Lower turnout, particularly among the young, has skewed politics towards the extremes. In France, barely 40% of the electorate voted in the recent election, part of what Le Monde described as “political de-socialisation”.  Those under 35 who did bother favoured Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the aged Trotskyite, or Marine Le Pen, the doyenne of French fascism, over President Emmanuel Macron, who embodies the technocratic centre.

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