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New YAF Poll: What is Socialism? More Than Half of Students Can't Accurately Define It

New YAF Poll: What is Socialism? More Than Half of Students Can’t Accurately Define It

By

newguardstaff

August 19, 2019

Young America’s Foundation is pleased to release the findings of our exclusive poll of youth economic views, commissioned earlier this summer to coincide with the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise partnered with Echelon Insights, a nationally-renowned firm with expertise in digital and data-driven polling, to conduct an online poll of more than 2,000 Americans, aged 13 – 22 and representative of the country as a whole. Survey respondents included roughly 1,000 college-age students and 1,000 high school-age students. Our survey is unique in that it draws findings not only from college-age students, but also high school-age students.

Key takeaways from our findings

A majority of young people cannot accurately define socialism or free enterprise. The media and leftist leaders such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have popularized the notion that young people love socialism. Yet, our survey finds that young people don’t have a good enough understanding of socialism to determine their views on it. The majority of young people feel the country is headed in the wrong direction (53%). That young people hold this view despite the record economic climate—job growth, wage growth, and decreased unemployment—we are seeing across America is indicative of the false narratives they are being told by the media and in the education system.   A significant percentage of young people self-censor due the environments on their campuses. Nearly half (46%) stated that they have stopped themselves from sharing their ideas or opinions in the classroom. Half of students (50%) attributed their self-censorship to being judged by their classmates. The majority of young people consider themselves moderate or unsure on the ideological spectrum. Despite the increasingly leftist bias in our education system—from high school through college—many young people are skeptical of the Left’s ideas. Despite attempts by leftist leaders in America to popularize socialism, it is crystal clear that young people enjoy living in America and have little to no desire to live in China and Venezuela, countries that demonstrate the dangers of socialism in practice. A critical finding from this survey is that the more informed a young person is about socialism, the less likely he or she was to favorable towards it. Our poll asked respondents to evaluate the favorability of socialism before and after reading information about socialism. Prior to reading these statements, the mean average response was 4.15 our of 10.0, and following reading these statements, the mean average response was 3.84 out of 10. Millions of young people will return to school and college in the next few weeks, hoping to gain a real education on our society’s biggest challenges and questions. Yet, the reality is that our education system has failed to deliver for decades. Students in America’s educational institutions are taught not about the real virtues of free enterprise and freedom, but about the false benefits of larger government and anti-Americanism. YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise partnered with Echelon Insights, a nationally-renowned firm with expertise in digital and data-driven polling, to conduct an online poll of more than 2,000 Americans, aged 13 – 22 and representative of the country as a whole. Survey respondents included roughly 1,000 college-age students and 1,000 high school-age students. Our survey is unique in that it draws findings not only from college-age students, but also high school-age students. At the outset of this poll, we sought to understand:
  • How young Americans view critical topics like free enterprise, socialism, and economic history.
  • What young people are hearing about these issues, and how what they’re hearing shapes their perception of economic opportunity in America.
  • If and how young people’s beliefs are movable.
We found that the young people of Generation Z (those born from the mid-1990s to early-2000s) are hungry for different viewpoints. Yet, the dangers of political correctness, self-censorship, and mis-education in our education system are very real. The findings hit home the need for Young America’s Foundation’s work to educate and inspire young people with the ideas of free enterprise, limited government, and freedom.

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