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Published: Nov 18, 2022 4 min read
Photo illustration of a mother dancing with her optimistic Gen Z daughter
Money; Getty Images

Members of Gen Z came of age during a once-in-a-century pandemic and an historically rocky economy, but they’re not going to let those setbacks get them down.

The majority of Gen Zers, who are roughly between the ages of 13 and 25, are surprisingly optimistic that they will be at least as financially successful as their parents, according to a new survey from Morning Consult. In fact, more than one-third of these young people think they'll be better off financially than their parents.

The data firm asked a representative group of 1,000 Gen Zers how they think they will financially fare over the course of their lives compared to their parents. Of all the respondents, 38% said they will be better off, and 43% expect to fare the same. Only 19% reported that they believe they will be worse off than their parents.

Young people of color are especially optimistic about their financial futures: 42% of Hispanic Gen Z respondents said they will be better off than their parents, and 46% of Black Gen Zers said the same. By comparison, Black respondents were 11 percentage points more likely than white respondents to believe they will have better financial lives than their parents.

“Despite multiple financial hurdles and a tumultuous economy, Gen Z’s comparatively high optimism extends to their own financial well-being as well as to the broader economy,” the Morning Consult report states.

The views of older generations aren’t nearly as cheery about what's coming down the road for young people. A separate survey released earlier this year by Pew Research found that 72% of U.S. adults believe that kids these days will be financially worse off than their parents — a notable uptick from 2020 when 57% of adults expressed the same opinion.

Pew’s data could suggest that older generations don’t have as much confidence in Gen Z as Gen Zers do in themselves.

Whatever the case, Gen Z’s confidence seems to go beyond money. A growing body of research shows that Gen Z is not only optimistic about a better future — but ready to build one themselves. For example, a 2021 study from the data firm Echelon Insights shows that 7 in 10 young Americans believe their generation faces obstacles (such as climate disaster and systemic racism), but that those barriers only fuel the desire for action.

“Gen Zers are realistic about the state of the world, but optimistic about our ability to drive meaningful change in the future,” Anya Dua, founder of Gen Z Identity Lab, said in the report. “Change will be achieved not through business as usual – it will require new thinking, new approaches and new energy. Gen Z is up to the task.”

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