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RISMEDIA, March 11, 2010—A new national poll of America’s 18-29 year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, finds that six in ten (60%) are concerned about meeting their current bills and obligations and almost half (45%) report that their personal financial situation is bad. Among America’s undergraduate population, 45% are concerned about their ability to stay in college given the state of the economy.

[[The poll also finds young Republicans are showing more enthusiasm than young Democrats for participating in the upcoming midterm elections with 41% of Republicans planning on voting, compared to 35% of Democrats and 13% of Independents. A detailed report on the poll’s findings is available on the Institute’s homepage at

“Today we know this new generation of emerging leaders is less sure where we and they are headed,” said Bill Purcell, Director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “The question now is whether they will continue to grow their engagement in politics and public life in the years ahead–we may find out this fall.”

“Millions of young people are losing faith in government, politics and in many cases – the American dream,” said John Della Volpe, Director of Polling for Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “Millennials are calling on government to follow through on the bright promise that a generation dedicated to public service has come to passionately believe in.”

The Web-enabled survey of 3,117 18-29 year-old U.S. citizens with a margin of error of +/– 2.3 percentage points (95% confidence level) conducted with research partner Knowledge Networks for the IOP between January 29 and February 22, 2010 finds:

Strong majority of young adults concerned about keeping their heads above water. Economic anxiety among 18-29 year-olds is palpable, with six in ten (60%) saying they are concerned about meeting their current bills and obligations. A majority of young adults are also worried about affording a place to live (58%) and affording health care (56%). Almost half (46%) of those in the workforce are concerned about losing their job, and an identical proportion are concerned about their ability to live in the city or town they want to.

Less than half of Millennials are confident they can reach the American Dream. Asked to rate their personal financial situation, almost half (45%) of 18-29 year-olds report their situation as bad with only a slight majority (52%) describing theirs as good. When 18-29 year-olds reach their parent’s age, less than half (46%) say they believe they will be better off financially; slightly more than one-in-ten (11%) say they will be worse off, with the rest saying their situation will be the same (24%), they are unsure or declined to answer.

Given the state of the economy, nearly half of college students today question their ability to stay in school. Almost half of all four-year undergraduates (45%) and nearly two-thirds of community college students (64%) are concerned about staying in college. When four-year college students were asked how easy or difficult it would be for members of their class to find jobs after graduation, only 14% said it would be “easy” but more than eight in ten (84%) indicated it would be “difficult.” Two years ago in the spring of 2008, when this question was asked by our different polling partner, 30% of college students said it would be “easy” to find a job; in 2006, 37% and in 2004 31% said the same.

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