Gen Z Likes "Socialism" Over "Capitalism"


Gen Z is warming to the word “socialism,” preferring it strongly over the word “capitalism,” according to an Axios survey of over 2000 adults.

Felix Salmon writes, “61% of Americans aged between 18 and 24 have a positive reaction to the word ‘socialism’ — beating out ‘capitalism’ at 58%. Overall, 39% of Americans are well-disposed toward socialism, but the gulf remains wide for men and those aged over 55.”

Those are the big findings.

If you take a close look at the data, the survey shows a significant gap between generational attitudes. Among Baby Boomers (those 65+), 69% of respondents had a positive reaction to the word “capitalism,” while only 27% had a positive response to the word “socialism.”  Baby Boomers are positive about capitalism and mostly negative concerning socialism.

Among Gen Zers, that gap was much narrower, with more respondents feeling warmly toward the word “socialism.” 61% of Gen Zers had a positive response to “socialism,” compared to 58% reacting positively to the word “capitalism.” Gen Z prefers the word “socialism” over “capitalism.”

Each generation is different. We can help you learn more in one of our online workshops (such as the Ministry Across Generations training, or Chris Folmsbee’s teaching on the Six Generations Living in the US Today). Understanding the landscape is critical, and is one facet of being a good missionary. It helps to know who you are speaking to, what they believe, and how the gospel challenges and, in places, affirms elements of the cultural moment. Paul did this in Athens. He’s an excellent model to study.

For those asking if the Axios survey explored each generation’s understanding of socialism and capitalism, it did not, only the degree of positive reaction each generation had to the words. But these ideas are being increasingly debated today in the American public square. Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders have offered a vision of “democratic socialism” as their political platform. In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump said “America will never be a socialist country.” In the 2020 election, these ideas will likely receive a lot of attention.

Christianity offer critiques of both ideas, and it should be remembered that the present debates in American politics about capitalism and socialism fall under the broader discussion of justice, which Christians can and should definitely address. That’s what people are truly seeking. People are longing to live in a just and equitable society. How does Christianity speak to those questions?

Gen Zers want to know.