Millennial Support for Big Government Wanes if It Means Higher Taxes

July 21, 2014

Millennials distrust political parties and are largely socially liberal but fiscally centrist, according to the latest Reason-Rupe survey. The survey gathered responses from 2,000 adults ages 18 to 29 between late February and mid-March 2014, finding that today's young Americans are largely unaligned with traditional political parties:

  • While young adults have supported Democrat political candidates since 2004, one-third of millennials identify themselves as independents -- three times the number of Americans over the age of 30 who do so.
  • Twenty-eight percent of millennials trust neither major party to handle the nation's issues. Fifty percent do not trust either party to handle privacy.

Notably, the poll found that millennial support for a government that provides more services declines when the costs of such services become clear and when millennials make more money and become more responsible:

  • According to the poll, 54 percent favor "larger government with more services," while 43 percent favor "smaller government with fewer services." But after introducing tax rates into the mix, 57 percent favor smaller government.
  • Similarly, of those millennials whose parents pay for their health insurance, 57 percent favor increasing health insurance premiums to provide the uninsured with health coverage. But of millennials who pay for their own health insurance, 59 percent oppose paying more in premiums, while just 39 percent are in favor.
  • Of those making less than $20,000 annually, 53 percent support income distribution, while 39 percent oppose it. But among those making $40,000 or more, only 42 percent support income distribution while 54 percent oppose it.

The survey found mixed support for government action:

  • Seven in 10 millennials support government guarantees for housing, health insurance and income, yet only 32 percent reported that they preferred a government-managed economy, compared to 64 percent who supported a free market over a state-managed market.
  • A respective 70 percent and 64 percent of millennials have a positive view of competition and profit. More than half reported that they would like to start their own businesses.
  • While just 42 percent of millennials believed that government was inefficient and wasteful in 2009, 66 percent reported thinking so today. Sixty-three percent said that regulators favor special interests over the public.

Significantly, only 16 percent of those surveyed could accurately define socialism, yet 42 percent reported preferring socialism to capitalism.

The survey also indicated that young American adults believe in personal responsibility and other free-market values. When asked to explain success, respondents listed hard work, ambition and self-discipline as the top three explanations for wealth. The most common explanations for poverty were poor life choices, lack of job opportunities and lack of work ethic.

According to the report, six in 10 want to live in a society that distributes wealth based on achievement, even at the expense of unequal outcomes.

Source: "Millennials: The Politically Unclaimed Generation," Reason-Rupe 2014 Millennial Survey, July 10, 2014.

 

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