Economic barriers and the ‘State of Young America’

Progressive think tank Demos has partnered with Young Invincibles to commission a survey (“State of Young America”) of adults 18-34 to “better capture their circumstances, their anxieties, and their ambitions.”

Perhaps to little surprise, the poll results depict a population that is extremely discouraged, yet somehow most of them still believe in the American dream.

Demos’ partner, Young Invincibles, wrote that, “We are civic-minded and when asked in the poll, we value education and hard work as the ways to get ahead. But while 69% of young adults still believe the American Dream is achievable for their generation, economic barriers are currently holding us back.”

Here are a few of the key findings:

•Among all young people who have seen their debt increase, school loans (42 percent), credit cards (35 percent), and medical bills (27 percent) are the most common kinds of increased debt.

•Just over half (53 percent) of young workers have seen earnings increases over the past four years, leaving 46 percent of the working population with stagnant or even decreasing earnings across the period.

•The continued economic slump has caused a delay in important life decisions and concerns about future family life. Almost half (46 percent) have delayed purchasing a home, and nearly one-third of young people have delayed moving out on their own (33 percent) or starting a family (30 percent). A quarter has delayed getting married (25 percent). Minorities postponed these decisions with more frequency.

Full data, charts and conclusions available on the Demos website.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.


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