Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.
Gen Z is a generation of optimists
The Gen Zers of the United States have spoken. The polling firm Gallup, in partnership with a foundation funded by Walmart’s founders, the Waltons, has just released a new report on the state of this much-discussed generation.
Let’s dive in.
Gen Z is struggling with mental health more so than previous generations. Fewer Gen Zers consider their mental health to be excellent, at only 20 percent, and more consider it to be fair or poor, at 36 percent.
How often they feel stress, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness is also higher than other generations.
This is in striking contrast to 2013, when Gallup asked the same question to millennials who were the same age then that Gen Z is now (18–26). In 2013, over half of millennials, 52 percent, rated their mental health as excellent.
The not-so-silver silver lining: Mental health has deteriorated for both Gen X and millennials since 2013, so whatever is affecting Gen Z—scholar Jonathan Haidt thinks it’s smartphones/social media—does not seem to be entirely unique to them.
Gen Z’s optimism, as Gallup puts it, is “enduring.” Despite the mental health struggles, 82 percent believe they will achieve their goals. Seventy-six percent think they have a great future ahead of them. Sixty-six percent feel they can nab a dream job.
Which segment is the most optimistic? Black Gen Zers! They feel more strongly than their white and Hispanic counterparts that they have a great future ahead of them and that they will get a good job.
Also good: Large percentages of Gen Zers report having a best friend at school and feeling motivated and cared about there.
Forty-seven percent of Gen Z say that they are thriving.
What that means: The survey defines “thriving” as rating your current life as a 7 out of 10 or higher and estimating that your life 5 years from now will be an 8 or higher. A little over half, 53 percent, of Gen Z respondents met the first criterion. Over two-thirds, 68 percent, met the second.
How they compare: Currently, the “thriving-iest” generation is millennials at 59 percent, followed closely by Gen X at 57 percent. These are people between the ages of 26 and 56, when you would expect to be at your peak career and family years. Only 52 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 57–71) are thriving, and 45 percent of the Silent Generation (over 71).
But Gallup thinks “stage of life” isn’t the whole story. Millennials were asked the same question when they were Gen Z’s current age, and around 60 percent of them were thriving.
I’m unsure how much we can gather from this other than 1) it represents the combination of the bad and the good, above; 2) it’s a vague way to measure “thriving”; and 3) roughly half of Americans consider themselves to be thriving. Hence the neutral rating.
Other interesting tidbits:
Gen Z’s top three aspirations are financial security (this was top spot by far), getting married, and pursuing a personal passion in work.
Sixty-four percent say that financial barriers or funding options are a barrier to achieving their goals—the report notes that much of that is tied to concerns over student loans.
Just over half, 52 percent, say that their schoolwork “challenges them in a good way.” Surely we could be challenging our students more! (I’m reminded of The Free Press’ high school essay winner, who cited this as the reason why she asked to get homeschooled.)
What you can do with this information:
The survey also found that Gen Z’s feelings about the future are strongly affected by whether they have an adult or mentor in their life who encourages them to pursue their goals and dreams.
If you have Gen Zers in your life, encouragement matters!
For Gen Alpha parents, if you’re worried about smartphone and social media use, Haidt has some ideas here, as well as tips on alternative gadgets to give your young kids instead of smartphones.
Correction: In last week’s newsletter I wrote that there were .017 deaths per one million air passengers in 2020. The correct figure is .17.
Below in the links section, a possible “holy grail” palm oil replacement in Scotland, MDMA therapy in the US, bio-artificial livers in China, and more.
Other good stuff in the news ☀️
Energy & Environment:
- Germany likely to pass 50% mark for renewable power this year | Reuters
- China’s solar capacity expected to hit 1,000 GW by 2026 | Reuters
- Florida is now adding more solar power than any other state | Canary Media
- Bootmaker Dr. Martens to offer repairs in sustainability step | Reuters
- Electric two-wheelers are creating a buzz in Asia | The Economist
- Proper treatment for hypertension could avert 76M deaths globally by 2050, WHO says | CNN
- Confronting lead-tainted turmeric in Bangladesh | Undark
- MDMA therapy inches closer to approval | The New York Times
- Ozempic may be effective in treating a lot more than weight loss | Vox
- America’s extraordinary progress against cancer | Kite & Key Media
Science & Tech:
- ‘This could be the holy grail to replace palm oil‘ | BBC
- Bio-artificial liver approved for clinical trials in China | Interesting Engineering
- Scientists discover how brain cells die in Alzheimer’s | BBC
- What if polyester isn’t so bad after all? | The Wall Street Journal
- Life-changing cystic fibrosis treatment wins $3-million Breakthrough Prize | Nature
- Human trials of artificial wombs could start soon. Here’s what you need to know | Nature
- Google has a new tool to outsmart authoritarian internet censorship | MIT Technology Review
Politics & Policy:
- Illinois is the first state to abolish cash bail | AP
- EU lawmakers pass bill hiking renewable energy targets | Euractive
- Sponsor an ocean? Tiny island nation of Niue has a novel plan to protect its slice of the Pacific | AP
Society & Culture:
- Olivia Hill is first openly transgender person elected to Metro Nashville Council | The Tennessean
- How a free, 24/7 tutoring model is disrupting learning loss for low-income kids | The 74
- Median black household income is now at the highest level it has ever been | Economist Writing Every Day
- US Fed is poised to leave rates unchanged as it tracks progress toward a ‘soft landing’ | AP
TPN Member originals 🧠
(Who are our Members? Get to know them.)
- Announcing our 2023 blog-building fellows | Jason Crawford
- China’s economic woes, explained | Ian Bremmer
- Neo-Nazis and neo-Fascists found a home in Pinochet’s Chile. Today’s Fascists admire that regime of terror | Ruth Ben-Ghiat
- A new world order | Diane Francis
- Mitt Romney has given us a gift | David Brooks
- Is college worth the cost? The answer isn’t obvious anymore. | Isaac Saul
- Stop Denmark’s new blasphemy ban | Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Nicholas Christakis, Steven Pinker, Suzanne Nossel, Yascha Mounk
- By far the biggest risk factor for suicide is being male | Richard Reeves
- Searching for a breakup | Scott Galloway
- Rory Stewart on how not to be a politician | Yascha Mounk
- A trip to Ukraine clarified the stakes. And they’re huge. | Thomas L. Friedman
- The United Auto Workers strike | Isaac Saul
- Policy analyst Brink Lindsey on techno-optimistic socialism | James Pethokoukis
- What is the state of surveillance? | The Progress Network | September 26
Until Next Time
Here’s that map of where the wild
things pigs are that you requested. 🐷