Generation Z and the Transformation of American Adolescence: How Gen Z’s Formative Experiences Shape Its Politics, Priorities, and Future
November 9, 2023 |
The American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life is grateful to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for its generous support of this research.
Generational categories, such as baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z, are ubiquitous in American culture, featuring prominently in news stories, marketing materials, and published research. Despite their prevalence, there is not a universally accepted definition of generational boundaries, and even the labels themselves are points of contention. The media’s cavalier usage of generational labels has contributed to public confusion and received justifiable criticism, but generational cohorts remain important analytical categories for many reasons.
In the United States, generational cohorts have distinctive demographic profiles. For instance, about half of Generation Z is non-Hispanic white, compared to more than seven in 10 baby boomers (71 percent). The religious composition differs significantly as well. More than one in three Gen Z adults identifies as religiously unaffiliated, roughly twice as many as baby boomers. Further, Gen Z adults are about five times more likely than baby boomers to identify as LGBTQ.
Being a member of a more diverse generation increases the probability of regular social interactions with people who do not share your racial or religious background, sexual identity, or sexual orientation. Diversity exposes people to a wider array of backgrounds and encourages commitment to pluralism. It’s not a coincidence that Gen Z adults are more likely than older generations to believe that America’s diversity is a source of strength for the country.
Generational differences extend beyond demographics. In Generations, Jean Twenge argues that the widespread adoption of new technologies that transformed American society also created unique generational experiences. Twenge suggests that “technological change isn’t just about stuff; it’s about how we live, which influences how we think, feel, and behave.”[i] For instance, equipping teenagers with smartphones that offer instant virtual access to their friends has reduced the incentives to spend time with friends in person. As a result, we find that Gen Z adults spent far less time during their teenage years simply hanging out with friends face-to-face than did any previous generation.
Lastly, generations are distinct to the extent that their members hold in common certain formative experiences that shape their view of the world and sense of their place in it. The earliest work on generations focused on major events that catalyzed a distinctive orientation. But these events are not the only formative experiences that matter. Rather, routine patterns of behavior, norms, and beliefs established in childhood exert considerable influence over our adult lives.
Compared to previous generations, Generation Z is more likely to have been raised in smaller families by older parents who are spending more time outside the home. Census data show that in two-parent households, young adults today are far more likely to have both parents working full-time, a shift from previous generations. Personal choices and professional demands altered the structure of family life in ways that profoundly reshaped young adults’ formative experiences. In a past study, we found that only 38 percent of Generation Z adults reported having meals with their family on a daily basis when they were growing up.[ii] In contrast, more than three-quarters of baby boomers (76 percent) said having regular family meals was part of their childhood experience.
If generational cohorts are meaningfully different, then it is worth identifying and measuring them in surveys. In cross-sectional studies like this one, reliably comparing generations is challenging because these categories are confounded by age. Baby boomers are substantially older than millennials and Gen Z, and therefore their financial circumstances, personal and professional responsibilities, and relationship dynamics are going to reflect that fact. As we age, our social context evolves in important ways as well. How we spend our time and who we spend it with changes a lot between our early 20s and late 50s. Accounting for life-stage differences is crucial if we want to understand the unique way that generation shapes people’s lives and experiences.
One solution to this problem is to use longitudinal data to compare identical age groups at different periods of time. This is the approach taken by the Pew Research Center. In a recent post, Kim Parker writes that the center will only undertake “generational analysis when we have historical data that allows us to compare generations at similar stages of life.” This method allows researchers to control for age differences. As Parker notes:
When doing this kind of research, the question isn’t whether young adults today are different from middle-aged or older adults today. The question is whether young adults today are different from young adults at some specific point in the past.[iii]
Pew has gone so far as to update certain generational comparisons[iv] to illustrate this transition to age-period-cohort analysis.
In the current survey, one approach we adopt is to measure differences in adolescent experiences as a way of holding age differences constant. This is achieved through a series of questions about a variety of activities and experiences, such as participating in youth athletics, dating, working a part-time job, and talking to a therapist. Because we ask respondents to recall past behaviors and events—sometimes experiences that occurred a long time ago—we focus less on precise measurements of frequency and attempt to identify whether certain activities represent a significant part of their teenage experience.
Despite this measurement approach, memory bias—the tendency to remember past events or experiences in ways that accord with the current emotional state—is a potential problem. This issue is especially problematic when asking respondents to reflect on past emotional experiences, such as feelings of loneliness. However, it is possible to validate cross-sectional survey results by comparing them to longitudinal data. In the current study, our findings that document the relative high rates of reported teenage loneliness among Generation Z are consistent with longitudinal research that shows young people today experiencing much higher rates of social disconnection than young adults did in previous eras.[iv]
Still, a word of caution is warranted. Regardless of the definition, generations include individuals born over a number of years, and as a result, there is considerable diversity among generational cohorts. The cultural touchstones and technological experiences of the oldest and youngest members of a particular generation are sure to be different. What’s more, the growing diversity in racial and ethnic identity, religious affiliation, and sexual identity and orientation means that experiences of younger generational cohorts are likely more varied than those of previous generations that are more demographically homogenous.
These facts complicate generational comparisons, but they do not make these categories irrelevant. Recognizing the limitations of generational analyses will allow us to better appreciate how these categories can elucidate changes in American life.
Generational Changes in Teen Experiences and Activities
If generational categories are meaningful, then we ought to observe measurable differences in formative experiences across different cohorts. In a number of ways, the teen experiences of younger generations diverge sharply from those of older generations, whether that is in alcohol and drug use, the pursuit of romantic relationships, religious participation, or the amount of time spent with friends.
Delayed Adulthood: Work and Relationships
Most Americans have their first romantic experiences and develop their first relationships during their teen years. However, American teenagers are increasingly less likely to have a romantic partner—a boyfriend or girlfriend—than they once were. Fifty-six percent of Gen Z adults report having had a boyfriend or girlfriend as a teenager, while 41 percent say they did not have this experience. Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) millennials and more than three-quarters of Generation Xers (76 percent) and baby boomers (78 percent) say they had a boyfriend or girlfriend for at least some part of their teen years.
There are not sizable gender differences in dating experiences, but men are somewhat less likely than women to have had a consistent romantic partner throughout their teen years. The generational gap in teenage dating experiences among men is stark. Gen Z men are more than twice as likely as baby boomer men to report that they did not have a significant other as a teenager (44 percent vs. 20 percent).
Working a part-time or summer job was once a ubiquitous experience for cash-strapped teenagers, but today’s teens are less likely to take on these responsibilities. Fifty-eight percent of Gen Z adults say they had a part-time job at some point during their teen years. Close to four in 10 (38 percent) Gen Z adults say they did not have a part-time job as a teenager. For previous generations, part-time work was much more prevalent. Seven in 10 (70 percent) millennials, nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) Generation Xers, and 82 percent of baby boomers worked in a part-time position as a teenager.
New Patterns: Religion, Drugs, and Alcohol
For a time, religious involvement and drug use were inversely related: The more time teens spent at church, the less likely they were to be involved with drugs or alcohol. For young people today, that relationship has been completely decoupled. Gen Z adults report low levels of religious participation and drug and alcohol use.
No generation reports lower levels of religious involvement as teens than Generation Z. Only about half (52 percent) of Gen Z adults say they attended religious services regularly during their teen years. Forty-five percent report that they did not participate at all in religious services as teenagers. A majority (58 percent) of millennials and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Generation X say they attended services regularly during at least part of their teen years. More than seven in 10 (71 percent) baby boomers say they were regularly involved in a church or congregation at some point during their teen years.
Alcohol and drug use is less prevalent among young adults today than it was for previous generations. Less than one-third (32 percent) of Gen Z adults report occasionally drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes or marijuana for at least part of their teen years. Forty-three percent of millennials and more than half of Generation X (52 percent) and baby boomers (54 percent) report that they occasionally smoked or drank as teenagers. Close to two-thirds (65 percent) of Gen Z adults say that smoking pot or cigarettes or drinking alcohol was not a regular part of their teen experience.
For millennials, Generation Xers, and baby boomers, lower involvement in religion as a teenager is associated with a higher likelihood of alcohol and drug use. However, this relationship is weak for Gen Z. Among Gen Z adults who report having regularly attended religious services during their teen years, 34 percent say they also drank, smoked, or used drugs during at least some of this time. The rates of reported alcohol and drug use among Gen Z adults who never participated in religious services is remarkably similar. Less than one-third (32 percent) say they engaged in drug use or alcohol consumption as teenagers.
Youth Athletics and Outdoor Activities: A Shrinking Gender Divide
Teen involvement in athletics and outdoor activities, such as scouting and hunting, is on the decline. However, in both cases, men are responsible for most if not all of the falloff.
Half of Americans report having participated in competitive team sports during all of (23 percent) or at some point in (27 percent) their teen years. Forty-eight percent report not having participated in competitive sports during this time.
Participation in youth athletics is higher today than it was in an earlier era, but the trend masks a crucial gender divide. Young women participate at much higher rates today than did older women, while young men are less involved in competitive sports as teenagers than were previous generations of men.
For men, youth athletics are a less central part of adolescent experience than they once were. Fifty-two percent of Gen Z men say they played a competitive sport for at least some time as a teenager. In contrast, older men report much higher rates of involvement in youth sports: 63 percent of Generation X and 64 percent of baby boomer men say they played during at least part of their teen years. Close to half (45 percent) of Gen Z men never participated in competitive sports as a teenager.
The generational pattern among women is partially reversed. Young women today are much more likely than previous generations to have participated in competitive sports during their teen years. Nearly half (46 percent) of Gen Z and millennial (47 percent) women report having played competitive sports as a teenager, an experience far less common among baby boomer women. Fewer than three in 10 (29 percent) baby boomer women say they played competitive sports at any time during their teenage years.
A similar pattern emerges in participation in outdoor activities. Men consistently report greater participation than women in scouting and outdoor activities, but the gender gap is shrinking due to men’s waning involvement. Two-thirds (67 percent) of baby boomer men and a majority (58 percent) of Generation X men report being involved in hunting or scouting at some point during their teenage years. In contrast, less than half of millennial men (45 percent) and Gen Z adult men (42 percent) engaged in these types of activities as teens.
Teen Loneliness and Friendship Experiences
Hanging out with friends in person was once a defining part of the teenage experience, but it has become increasingly uncommon. More than half of Americans (53 percent) report that they regularly socialized with their friends during most or all of their teen years. Thirty-three percent said they did this during some of their teen years, while only 13 percent say they did not regularly hang out with friends as a teenager.
Young Americans today are less likely than previous generations to have spent a lot of time socializing with their friends. Seventy-eight percent of Generation Z adults report that they spent at least some of their teen years regularly hanging out with friends. More than eight in 10 millennials (84 percent), Generation Xers (89 percent), and baby boomers (88 percent) say they spent time with friends during a good part of their teen years.
The generational gap is even more pronounced when comparing the extent to which in-person socializing occurred throughout teenage years. No group of Americans spent more time with friends during all of their teen years than did Generation X. Sixty percent of Generation Xers say they spent most or all of their teen years hanging out in person with friends. More than half of baby boomers (52 percent) and millennials (54 percent) say they spent a lot of time with friends as teenagers, but only 40 percent of Generation Z adults report that this was their experience. Nearly one in five (19 percent) Gen Z adults say they did not spend any of their teen years regularly socializing with friends.
Since teenage socializing occurs less often than it once did, it is not surprising that feelings of loneliness and social isolation are more prevalent than they once were. More than six in 10 (61 percent) Gen Z adults say they felt lonely or isolated during at least some of their teen years. Fifty-seven percent of millennials say the same. Fewer Generation Xers (44 percent) and baby boomers (36 percent) say they felt lonely often during some part or most of their teen years.
An Increase in Teen Therapy
American teens are heading to therapy at growing rates. More than one in four (27 percent) Generation Z adults—including nearly one-third (31 percent) of Gen Z women—report that they spent at least some of their teen years talking to a therapist. Twenty percent of millennials also report that they talked to a therapist at some point during their teen years.
For Generation X and baby boomers, therapy was a fairly rare experience. Only 10 percent of Generation X Americans and 4 percent of baby boomers spent any time in therapy as teenagers.
Being bullied is an unfortunate experience for many teens, and the frequency of bullying experiences has changed little over the years. Thirty-eight percent of Gen Z adults and close to half (45 percent) of millennials report being bullied as a teenager. Thirty-nine percent of Generation Xers and about one-third (32 percent) of baby boomers also report that they were bullied as teenagers.
For teenagers, being overweight is associated with a much greater likelihood of being bullied. Roughly one in four (26 percent) Americans report that they were overweight during some or all of their teen years. Half (50 percent) Americans who say they were overweight as a teenager report that they were bullied. In contrast, only about one in three (34 percent) Americans who were not overweight as a teenager report being bullied at some point during their teen years.
Teen athletes report less frequent experiences of bullying than those who did not participate in youth sports, but only for men. Men who report participating in sports throughout their teenage years are significantly less likely to report being bullied than are those who did not participate at all (29 percent vs. 42 percent).
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans report much higher rates of teen bullying than do Americans who identify as straight. A majority (56 percent) of gay and lesbian Americans and 62 percent of those who identify as bisexual say they were bullied during their teen years, compared to 35 percent of Americans who are straight or heterosexual.
Lonely teenagers report much more frequent bullying experiences. Seventy percent of Americans who report feeling lonely throughout their teenage years say they were bullied. Only 22 percent of Americans who say they did not feel lonely as a teenager say they were ever bullied, a nearly 50-point gap. Lonely teenagers might serve as easier targets for bullies, but it’s also possible that bullied teenagers are left feeling more isolated from the experience. Americans who report being bullied as teenagers report feeling lonely much more often than those who were not.
Americans raised by a single parent are more likely to report being bullied as a teenager than those who were raised in two-parent households, but the difference is only evident among those with college-educated parents. A majority (52 percent) of Americans raised by a college-educated single parent say they were bullied as a teenager, compared to 35 percent of those from two-parent households in which both parents are degree-holders. Among Americans raised by parents without college degrees, there is no significant difference in bullying experiences between those raised in single- versus two-parent households.
Private Art and Music Lessons
There are only modest generational differences in the likelihood of having taken private art or music classes. Thirty percent of Gen Z adults say they took private art or music lessons at some point during their teen years, compared to about one in four millennials (26 percent) and baby boomers (24 percent) and one in five (22 percent) Generation Xers.
Gen Z women report much higher levels of participation in art and music classes as teenagers than do Gen Z men. More than one in three (35 percent) Gen Z women say they were enrolled in private art or music classes during at least some of their teenage years. Fewer than one in four (24 percent) Gen Z men report that they took art or music lessons as teenagers.
The Class Divide in Teen Experience
Americans raised in two-parent married households where both parents had a college degree have remarkably different experiences as teenagers than those raised in households where neither parent was college-educated. Participation in youth athletics is much more common among Americans raised in households with two college-educated parents. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans raised by parents with at least a four-year degree say they were involved in competitive sports during their teen years. In contrast, among those raised in households where neither parent had a degree, less than half (46 percent) report participating in sports.
Private music and art lessons are also much more common for Americans raised in more-educated households. Americans who were raised by college-educated parents are nearly three times more likely to have been enrolled in private art or music lessons as a teenager than those raised by a single parent without a college education (44 percent vs. 16 percent, respectively).
Family Structure, Parental Education, and Teen Religious Participation
For Americans over age 50, their parents’ educational background is not closely connected to their religious participation. Among Americans raised by parents with four-year degrees, 70 percent said they participated regularly in religious services during some if not all of their teen years. Those raised by parents without a degree report similar levels of religious activity: 64 percent participated regularly during some part of their teen years.
For Americans under age 50, their parents’ educational background seems to make a difference. Among Americans under age 50 who were raised by college-educated parents, 69 percent said they went to church regularly for some or all of their teen years, compared to 56 percent of those without college-educated parents.
If parental education has become more strongly associated with childhood religious involvement, family structure appears to have consistently affected Americans’ formative religious experiences. Across generations, Americans raised by married parents report more regular religious participation in adolescence than those raised by single parents or those who had other family arrangements. Americans raised by a single parent are far less likely to have participated in religious services as teenagers than those who grew up in two-parent households. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans raised in two-parent married households say they participated in religious services for at least some time during their teen years. In contrast, slightly more than half (53 percent) of those raised by a single parent report regularly participating in religious services during some or all of their teen years.
The Varying Influence of Parental Politics
A robust academic literature[vi] has shown that parents’ political preferences have a considerable influence on their children’s views. Consistent with these findings, the survey reveals a strong connection between parental voting behavior and the subsequent political affiliation of children. Overall, 62 percent of Americans raised by parents who always or nearly always voted for Democratic candidates identify as Democrat. Similarly, 57 percent of Americans whose parents always or nearly always voted Republican now identify with the Republican Party.
However, the transmission of political values across generations is not consistent. For baby boomers, their parents’ political behavior exercised a similar influence regardless of whether their parents were Democrats or Republicans. Sixty percent of baby boomers raised by parents who consistently voted for Democratic candidates report being a Democrat today. Conversely, a nearly identical 59 percent of Americans raised by parents who uniformly supported Republican candidates are Republican.
For younger generations, the influence of parental political preferences is uneven: Democratic parents appear to more effectively inculcate a particular political orientation in their children than do Republican parents. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of Gen Z adults raised in a Democratic household identify as a Democrat. However, among Gen Z adults raised in a Republican household, only 60 percent say they are a Republican. The pattern among millennials is remarkably similar. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of millennials with Democratic-voting parents say they are a Democrat, but less than half (47 percent) of millennials raised by Republican parents identify as Republican today.
Generation Z: Transition into Adulthood
The oldest Generation Z adults are in their mid-20s. The youngest are preteens. These years represent a time of considerable instability and uncertainty, as young adults develop academic interests and intellectual pursuits, establish important relationships, and decide on the type of life they want to lead. Their personal concerns, feelings of loneliness, and search for meaning reflect a generation in transition, rather than a permanent state of being. Gen Z experiences are the experiences of young adults.
However, formative experiences are not irrelevant. Many of the acute feelings of loneliness that characterize Gen Z adolescence will influence their decision-making as adults. Gen Z’s unique approach to sexual identity and orientation and their eschewing of traditional labels may change their understanding of themselves, who they are, and where they fit in.
A Generational Moment: The COVID-19 Pandemic
Half of the American public said the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the course of their life. Fifteen percent of Americans report their lives were affected a “great deal,” and 35 percent said the pandemic influenced their lives a fair amount. Thirty-seven percent of Americans report that the pandemic’s influence over the course of their life was marginal, while 12 percent report that their lives were not changed at all.
The lives of younger Americans were uniquely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixty percent of Gen Z adults and 59 percent of millennials report that the pandemic influenced the trajectory of their lives either a great deal or a fair amount. Less than half (47 percent) of Generation X and 43 percent of baby boomers report that the pandemic altered their lives in a meaningful way.
Given the myriad ways the pandemic upended ordinary Americans’ lives, the survey included a follow-up question asking those who reported that their life was affected by the pandemic to elaborate in their own words. Overall, Americans whose lives were affected by the pandemic report that effect as negative, rather than neutral or positive.[vii]
More than six in 10 (62 percent) Americans whose lives were substantially affected by the pandemic and who detailed that impact in an open-ended response report the effect was negative. Roughly one in five (19 percent) report that their pandemic experience ultimately influenced their life in a positive direction, and 15 percent report a neutral effect, neither positive or negative.
Life Trajectory: Not Going as Planned
In thinking about their life experiences, Americans are generally more likely to say that their life has gone in an unexpected direction than they are to say things generally turned out how they thought they would. More than four in 10 (44 percent) Americans say their life has turned out differently than they expected. One-third (33 percent) say things have turned out the way they thought they would, and more than one in five (22 percent) say they never gave much thought to how things in their life would go.
There are few differences in views across generations. However, women are more likely than men to report that their life has gone in an unexpected direction. A majority (54 percent) of millennial women, compared to less than half (46 percent) of millennial men, say their life has taken an unexpected turn. Gen Z women are also more likely than Gen Z men to say things have turned out differently than they expected (48 percent vs. 39 percent). The pattern is just as stark between baby boomer women and men (45 percent vs. 34 percent).
Across generations, Americans raised in two-parent households by college-educated parents are more likely to report that their life has turned out as they expected it would. Forty-two percent of Americans raised by college-educated parents report that their life has gone how they thought, compared to 30 percent of those raised in a single-parent household and 32 percent of those raised by two parents without college degrees.
Even as pessimism in politics has become ubiquitous, young people remain optimistic about the direction of their own lives. Seventy percent of Gen Z adults say their best days are ahead of them. Fifty-eight percent of millennials, less than half (46 percent) of Generation Xers, and only one in three (33 percent) baby boomers say their best days are ahead of them.
Feelings of Loneliness
Feelings of loneliness and social isolation are associated with age: Younger Americans consistently report these feelings more often than older Americans do. Nearly one in four (24 percent) Gen Z adults say that over the past 12 months, they have always or often felt lonely. Eighteen percent of millennials, 12 percent of Generation Xers, and 7 percent of baby boomers report feeling lonely this frequently.
However, the pronounced feelings of social disconnection and isolation among young adults today may not entirely be an artifact of age. There is a strong connection between teen loneliness and feelings of social isolation in adulthood. This pattern is evident across generations, even for Americans who were teenagers a long time ago. Twenty percent of baby boomers who report that they were lonely most or all of the time as teenagers say they often felt lonely over the past 12 months. In contrast, only 4 percent of baby boomers who were not lonely as teenagers report having felt this way often in the past year. The gap is even larger among younger generations. Forty-two percent of Generation Xers who felt lonely for most or all of their teenage years say they often felt lonely in the past year, compared to 7 percent of Xers who were not lonely as teenagers. The gap is similar among millennials and largest among Gen Z adults (56 percent vs. six percent).
Creating a Meaningful Life
Most Americans feel that their life is meaningful at least sometimes, but fewer often feel this way. Less than half (49 percent) of Americans say in the past 12 months they have felt their life is meaningful either always or often. Fifty percent of the public says they have felt this way only sometimes (28 percent), rarely (13 percent), or never (9 percent).
While generational differences between Gen Z, millennials, and Generation X are not significant, the oldest generations stand out in believing their lives are meaningful. Less than half (45 percent) of Gen Z adults, millennials (44 percent), and Generation Xers (46 percent) say they have felt their life was meaningful always or often over the past 12 months. A majority (56 percent) of baby boomers say they always or often have felt their lives were meaningful.
Americans who have never married, are not religious, and have lower levels of formal education feel their lives have meaning less often than other Americans do. Only about four in 10 (43 percent) Americans with a high school degree or less say they always or often have felt that their life is meaningful during the past 12 months. Roughly half (52 percent) of Americans with a four-year college degree and 57 percent of Americans with a postgraduate education report these same feelings.
Married Americans also report feeling that their lives are meaningful more frequently than those who have never married. More than half (53 percent) of married Americans say over the past 12 months they have always or often felt their life had meaning, compared to 41 percent of those who have never married.
Overall, religious Americans tend to believe their life is meaningful more often than do those who are not religious. These feelings are especially pronounced among white evangelical Protestants and Latter-day Saints (Mormons). More than six in 10 (62 percent) Latter-day Saints and a majority (56 percent) of white evangelical Christians say in the past 12 months they always or often have felt their life has meaning. In contrast, only 42 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans say the same.
An Uncertain Sense of Self
For many Americans, adolescence and early adulthood are periods of self-discovery and self-doubt. Younger Americans are far more likely than older Americans to report they have felt uncertain about who they are supposed to be. More than half (53 percent) of Gen Z adults and nearly half (47 percent) of millennials say they have felt unsure about who they are supposed to be at least once in a while over the previous 12 months. In contrast, only 28 percent of Generation Xers and 16 percent of baby boomers say they have wondered about who they are supposed to be in the past 12 months.
Young women more than young men report feeling greater uncertainty about their sense of who they are. Sixty percent of Gen Z women and 46 percent of Gen Z men say that over the past year they have occasionally felt “uncertain about who they were supposed to be.”
Part of the gender divide may be attributable to the larger share of women who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Americans who identify as bisexual, gay, or lesbian report more frequent feelings of uncertainty about who they are than do most other Americans. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans who identify as bisexual say in the past 12 months they have sometimes felt unsure about who they were supposed to be. Close to half of gay and lesbian adults (48 percent) report feeling this way as often. Americans who identify as straight or heterosexual are far less likely to feel unsure about who they are; 29 percent report this feeling within the past year.
Concerns About Career, Finances, and Friendship
For Generation Z adults, concerns about relationships, career, and finances likely reflect their current situation rather than a permanent condition. Personal priorities change substantially over the life course in response to changing roles, such as becoming a parent and taking on new financial responsibilities.
Having Enough Friends
Younger adults are generally more preoccupied with friendship dynamics than are older Americans. This might be because young adults spend more time with friends and rely more on their friends for social support than do older adults. Nearly half (48 percent) of Gen Z adults say they worry at least once in a while about having enough friends, compared to 39 percent of millennials, 29 percent of Generation Xers, and 25 percent of baby boomers.
Gen Z women report that they worry about their friendship circles far more often than do Gen Z men. Nearly six in 10 (57 percent) Gen Z women say they worry at least sometimes over whether they have enough friends, compared to 41 percent of Gen Z men. A narrower but still significant gap also exists among baby boomer women and men (28 percent vs. 22 percent). Notably, there is no gender gap among millennials or Generation X.
Finding a Meaningful Job or Career
Younger Americans also report greater concern about finding a meaningful job or career. Seventy percent of Gen Z adults say they at least occasionally worry about finding a job or career that is meaningful. A majority (60 percent) of millennials also report that they are concerned about finding a meaningful career at least sometimes. Far fewer Generation Xers (43 percent) and baby boomers (17 percent) report having these concerns, perhaps reflecting either different professional priorities or being at different stages of their respective careers.
A gender gap is evident among Gen Z adults, with women reporting greater concern about finding a meaningful career than men. Three-quarters (75 percent) of Gen Z women and about two-thirds (66 percent) of Gen Z men say they worry at least once in a while about whether they will be able to attain a meaningful job or career.
Concerns about financial security cut across generations, with a notable exception. More than half of Gen Z adults (60 percent), millennials (56 percent), and Generation Xers (52 percent) say they worry at least sometimes about having enough money to pay their bills. Baby boomers feel significantly more secure in their finances; only 38 percent say they worry at least once in a while about being able to pay their bills. A majority (61 percent) of baby boomers say this is something they rarely or never worry about.
Gen Z Politics: A Growing Gender Divide and Formative Distrust
The politics of Generation Z lean liberal, but not necessarily Democratic. Fewer than one in three (32 percent) Gen Z adults identify as Democrat, compared to about one in five (21 percent) who are Republican. Twenty-nine percent of Gen Z adults are politically independent. Notably, 16 percent say their politics fall into another category; they identify as “something else,” meaning that close to half of Gen Z adults do not identify with either major political party.
Despite being less attached to either political party, Gen Z adults are much more liberal than conservative in their political leanings. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) identify as liberal, 32 percent identify as moderate, and roughly one in four (26 percent) are conservative.
Previous research identified a growing gap in ideological orientation between young men and women. The gender gap in liberal identity is notable among members of Generation Z, but it’s relatively modest. Forty-three percent of Gen Z women identify as liberal, compared to 35 percent of Gen Z men. However, the gender divide among white non-Hispanic Gen Z adults is considerable. Close to half (46 percent) of white Gen Z women are liberal, a far greater share than white Gen Z men, among whom only 28 percent identify as liberal. Among Gen Z adults, white men are significantly more likely than white women to identify as politically conservative (36 percent vs. 26 percent). The ideological differences between men and women in other age cohorts are comparably modest.
Public trust in government has been falling for years. Polling shows that few Americans have much confidence that the federal government acts in the best interests of the citizenry or believe that political leaders can be trusted to act honestly and ethically. However, formative political experiences vary considerably across generations, with older Americans reporting greater confidence in political leaders during their childhood years. Only about one-third of Gen Z adults (34 percent) and millennials (34 percent) agree with the statement “When I was growing up America’s political leaders could generally be trusted.” More than six in 10 Gen Z adults (62 percent) and millennials (63 percent) say that during their formative years, political leaders were generally not to be trusted. Views of older Americans are starkly different. A majority of Generation X (54 percent), two-thirds of baby boomers (66 percent), and eight in 10 Americans of the Silent Generation (80 percent) agree that political leaders when they were growing up could basically be trusted to do the right thing.
Social Media and Social Connection
Gen Z adults are prolific users of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Seven in 10 (70 percent) Gen Z adults use social media daily, including 55 percent who report spending time on social media sites multiple times a day. Millennials’ social media usage is nearly as high. Two-thirds (67 percent) of millennials report using social media every day, including nearly half (49 percent) who are on social media multiple times a day. Nearly six in 10 (59 percent) Generation Xers and just over half (51 percent) of baby boomers are visiting social media sites daily, though they are far less likely to be on these sites multiple times (39 percent and 29 percent, respectively).
Women use social media more often than men, a pattern that is consistent across generations. Three-quarters (75 percent) of Gen Z women are on social media daily, with 61 percent logging onto these sites multiple times a day. Less than two-thirds (65 percent) of Gen Z men use social media at least once a day, with less than half (49 percent) reporting multiple visits a day.
Not only do Gen Z adults use social media more often than other generations, they also use social media somewhat differently. Gen Z adults who use social media report spending more time connecting with friends by posting or sending messages. This is especially true of those who spend the most time on social media platforms. Nearly half (48 percent) of Gen Z adults who check in multiple times a day report that they are “often” or “nearly always or always” interacting with friends while on social media. In contrast, millennials (35 percent), Generation Xers (31 percent), and baby boomers (42 percent) report interacting with friends on social media somewhat less often.
Social media was conceived of as a way of connecting people, but it can also make users feel like they are missing out. On balance, Americans who use social media are more likely to say it makes them feel connected than that it leaves them with fears of missing out. Roughly three-quarters (72 percent) of Americans who use social media report that it makes them feel more connected to other people. One in four (25 percent) say it makes them feel like they are missing out.
Millennials are most likely to report feelings of being left out when they use social media. More than one in three (35 percent) millennials report that after using social media, they are more likely to feel left out than connected to others. Twenty-nine percent of Gen Z adults feel the same. Generation Xers (23 percent) and baby boomers (16 percent) who use social media are far less likely to report that they feel like they’re missing out.
Americans who spend more time on social media are less likely to feel like they are missing out than those who infrequently use these platforms. One-third (33 percent) of Americans who report using social media a few times a month say spending time on social media platforms makes them feel like they are missing out, greater than the share of daily users (24 percent).’
Video Games and Online Gaming
Playing video games has become a much more common activity for Americans of all ages. Thirty-four percent of Americans report having played video games within the past week, including nearly one-quarter (24 percent) who report playing in the past 24 hours. However, video-game usage continues to be much heavier among young adults.
Generation Z has the largest proportion of regular gamers. A majority (56 percent) of Gen Z adults reported that they have played video games in the past week. Fewer millennials (41 percent), Generation Xers (29 percent), and baby boomers (25 percent) report playing video games in the past week.
Video-game usage skews male across the board, especially among Gen Z adults. Four in 10 (40 percent) American men report having played video games in the past week, compared to 28 percent of women. The gender divide in gaming is starkest among Gen Zers, with more than seven in 10 (71 percent) Gen Z men reporting that they have played video games within the past week. Only about four in 10 (41 percent) Gen Z women play this often. There is also a considerable gap among millennials. More than half (52 percent) of millennial men and fewer than one in three (30 percent) millennial women report having played in the past week. The gender gap shrinks considerably among Generation X and disappears completely among baby boomers.
For most Americans, video gaming is a solitary activity. Among Americans who report having played video games in the past month, 69 percent say they typically play by themselves. Thirty percent say they usually play with someone else, either online or in person.
Playing games with others is much more common among younger Americans, especially among younger men. Gen Z men are not only most likely to play video games; they are also most likely to play with their friends. When asked if they usually play alone or with someone else (either in person or online), Gen Z men are as likely to report that they typically play with a friend (49 percent) as to say they generally play by themselves (49 percent). In contrast, almost seven in 10 (68 percent) millennial men, three-fourths (74 percent) of Generation X men, and over four in five (84 percent) baby boomer men say that they typically game alone.
Social Media, Gaming, and Sociability
Research tracking various types of activities[viii] generally finds that young people spend more time with friends than do older people. Interestingly, the current survey reveals only modest generational divisions in the time Americans spend with friends in person, challenging existing analyses that suggest time spent with friends drops rapidly as we age.
Gen Z adults spend time with friends in person at a slightly lower rate than do older Americans. Sixty-one percent of Gen Z adults report having spent time with their friends in the past seven days (including 36 percent reporting that they have spent time with friends in the past 24 hours), while 59 percent of millennials, 64 percent of Generation Xers, and 69 percent of baby boomers report the same.
Social media use and video games are often identified as factors responsible for increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation, but the current survey reveals no association between these activities and sociability. Americans who spend more time on social media or playing video games do not report spending less time with friends than do more-frequent users. Among Gen Z adults and millennials, the most frequent social media users are actually more likely to spend time with friends in person than are those who report that they never use these platforms (63 percent vs. 54 percent).[ix]
LGBTQ Identity and Sexual Attraction
Recent surveys have revealed a growing generational gap in LGBTQ identity.[x] Young adults today are much more likely than young people in previous generations to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Nearly nine in 10 Americans (88 percent) identify as straight or heterosexual. Five percent identify as bisexual, 3 percent as gay or lesbian, and 2 percent as something else.
In the US, sexual orientation and identity vary considerably by age; however, generational patterns are not completely linear. Almost one in four (23 percent) Gen Z adults and 17 percent of millennials identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or something else. In contrast, nearly equal numbers of Generation X (6 percent) and baby boomers (5 percent) identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or something else.
Generational differences are primarily driven by the increase in bisexual identity among younger age cohorts. Thirteen percent of American Gen Z adults identify as bisexual, more than six times greater than the corresponding share of baby boomers.
Overall, there are only modest gender differences in sexual identity and orientation, but these differences are entirely driven by the large divisions among Gen Z adults. Nearly one in three (31 percent) Gen Z women identify as lesbian, bisexual, or something else. Fewer than one in five (16 percent) Gen Z men identify as gay, bisexual, or something else. The gender gap is nonexistent among Generation X and baby boomers and modest among millennials.
Sexual identity is strongly associated with political ideology, especially among younger Americans. Young liberals are far more likely than political moderates or conservatives to identify as something other than heterosexual. Nearly half (48 percent) of liberal Gen Z women and 29 percent of liberal Gen Z men identify as gay or lesbian, bisexual, or something else. Just over half (51 percent) of liberal Gen Z women identify as heterosexual or straight, compared to 69 percent of liberal Gen Z men.
Overall, the vast majority of Americans report being attracted exclusively to the opposite sex. Women are somewhat more likely than men to report fluidity in their feelings of sexual attraction. Eighty-seven percent of men and 81 percent of women say they are attracted to only people of the opposite sex. Notably, gender differences mostly disappear among older Americans.
The gender gap is most pronounced among Gen Z adults. Only about six in 10 (61 percent) Gen Z women report that they are physically attracted to exclusively men, while roughly three-quarters (76 percent) of Gen Z men say they are attracted to only women. Three in 10 (30 percent) Gen Z women report that they are attracted to both men and women.
How Stable Is Sexual Attraction?
For most Americans, feelings of sexual attraction have been fixed throughout their lives. Ninety-one percent of Americans report that their own feelings of sexual orientation have not changed at all. Nine percent say that their sexual preferences have changed over time. A gender difference emerges, with women slightly more likely than men to report their sexual preferences have changed (10 percent vs. 7 percent).
Generational differences are modest. Close to one in five (17 percent) Gen Z adults report that their feelings of physical attraction have changed at some point. Fewer millennials (11 percent), Generation Xers (6 percent), and baby boomers (5 percent) say their sexual orientation has evolved throughout their life.
Sexual Orientation: Nature or Nurture?
America is divided on whether being gay or lesbian is innate or the result of upbringing and environment. Fifty percent of Americans say sexuality is innate. Thirty-two percent say one’s upbringing or environment is the larger driver of sexual identity. Six percent of Americans cite a combination of both factors, while 8 percent say some other reason entirely.
Despite the greater diversity in their sexual orientation and identity, Gen Z adults tend to be more closely divided over the factors associated with sexual orientation. Less than half (46 percent) of Gen Z adults believe that being gay or lesbian is an innate quality. Forty-three percent say it is due to factors such as upbringing or someone’s environment (36 percent) or is the result of both (7 percent). Six percent of Gen Z adults say sexual orientation is the result of some other factor.
Can Sexuality Change Over Time?
There is a massive gender divide in views about sexual orientation. Only 38 percent of Gen Z men believe being gay or lesbian is the result of genetic factors, while roughly as many (40 percent) say it is due to a person’s upbringing. In contrast, a majority (54 percent) of Gen Z women believe that sexual orientation is an innate characteristic.
Ideological differences also loom large in views about sexual orientation. Seventy-six percent of liberals say sexual orientation is innate. In contrast, half (51 percent) of moderates and only 27 percent of conservatives agree. Instead, 51 percent of conservatives cite environmental factors, along with just 30 percent of moderates and 12 percent of liberals.
Gen Z’s Declining Support for Same-Sex Marriage
At one time, the issue of same-sex marriage sharply divided Americans by age, with younger adults expressing the most intense support and older Americans far more opposed. There is some indication that this generational gap is contracting, with Gen Z adults expressing lower support for same-sex marriage than they once did.
Today, two-thirds of Americans strongly (46 percent) or somewhat (20 percent) support allowing gay and lesbian people to marry. Less than one-third somewhat (13 percent) or strongly (18 percent) oppose same-sex marriage.
Although younger Americans continue to express stronger support for same-sex marriage than do older adults, the age gap has shrunk. Today, Gen Z adults are not much more supportive of same-sex marriage than are baby boomers. Sixty-nine percent of Gen Z adults favor allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, compared to 73 percent of millennials, 65 percent of Generation Xers, and 61 percent of baby boomers. As recently as 2021, eight in 10 (80 percent) Gen Z adults reported supporting same-sex marriage.[xi] There is no evidence of a similar drop among any other generation.
Feminism, Gender Discrimination, and Equality
When it comes to views on gender-related issues, there is a clear gender gap among Gen Z adults that is more pronounced than among older generational cohorts. These different perspectives between young men and women coincide with a series of events that were uniquely salient for young women. The #MeToo movement was a defining cultural moment for many young women, informing their views about the treatment of women in society. Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was another formative event for many young women, who remained uniquely opposed to him throughout his presidency. Finally, the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that established a right to abortion, was a uniquely salient issue for young women, who identified it as their most crucial concern in the months following.
Gender Discrimination and Mistreatment of Women
Roughly three in 10 (32 percent) Americans report that they have personally experienced discrimination based on their gender, including 5 percent who say this is a regular occurrence. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans report never having personally experienced gender discrimination.
Women are far more likely than men to report experiencing gender-based discrimination. Nearly half (45 percent) of women report this has happened at least occasionally. Only 17 percent of men say they have faced discrimination because of their gender.
Reported experiences of gender-based discrimination and mistreatment are more common among young women than older women. Half (50 percent) of Gen Z women and a majority (55 percent) of millennial women say that they have been mistreated or discriminated against because of their gender at some point in their lives. Generation X and baby boomer women are somewhat less likely to report having these experiences; 42 percent and 39 percent say they have faced gender discrimination, respectively.
Notably, Gen Z men are much more likely than older men to report facing gender-based discrimination. Nearly one in four (23 percent) Gen Z men report this experience, compared to 20 percent of Generation X men, 14 percent of baby boomer men, and 6 percent of Silent Generation men.
Generational differences in reported experiences pale in comparison to ideological differences. Liberal women are considerably more likely than conservative women to report having ever experienced gender discrimination or mistreatment (66 percent vs. 30 percent). In fact, liberal women stand out on this item regardless of age. Sixty-six percent of Gen Z liberal women report having experienced gender discrimination, compared to 34 percent of Gen Z conservative women.
Feeling Respected by the Opposite Gender
Men and women report vastly different experiences when it comes to feeling respected by people of the opposite sex. Women are twice as likely to report that they have been treated disrespectfully by men at least once in a while over the previous 12 months (34 percent vs. 17 percent, respectively). A majority (54 percent) of men report never having felt this way over the previous 12 months.
The gender gap is much larger among young people. Half (50 percent) of Gen Z women say they have felt that men don’t respect them at least occasionally over the previous 12 months. Only 18 percent of Gen Z men report having felt disrespected by women.
Are Women and Men Treated Equally in Church?
Most Americans do not believe that churches and religious congregations treat men and women equally. Forty-two percent of the public says that most churches and congregations treat men and women the same; a majority (57 percent) of the public disagrees.
Public perceptions vary only modesty by generation. More than half of Generation Z (56 percent), millennials (63 percent), Generation X (52 percent), and baby boomers (56 percent) say that religious institutions do not generally treat men and women equally.
Women generally are less likely to agree that churches treat men and women equally, but the pattern varies considerably across generations. The most pronounced gender gap is found among Gen Z adults. Nearly half (49 percent) of Gen Z men believe that churches and religious congregations treat men and women equally, compared to only 30 percent of Gen Z women. Millennial men (35 percent) and women (32 percent) report remarkably similar views about how men and women are treated by religious institutions.
Biological Differences Between Men and Women
Overwhelmingly, Americans affirm the statement: “There are important biological differences between men and women.” Ninety percent of the public agrees with this statement while just 10 percent of Americans reject it.
Similar numbers of men and women believe there are important biological differences between men and women. Ninety-one percent of men and 87 percent of women believe this is the case.
Generational differences on this item are somewhat muted, but the strength of agreement varies widely. Eighty percent of Gen Z adults, 85 percent of millennials, 92 percent of Generation Xers, and 94 percent of baby boomers agree that there are important biological differences between the two genders. However, the confidence with which Gen Z adults affirm this fact differs from older generations. Less than half (48 percent) of Gen Z adults completely agree that important biological differences exist between men and women, compared to 73 percent of baby boomers.
The Gen Z Gender Gap on Feminism
Americans are divided over whether they would consider themselves a feminist. About half (48 percent) of the public says they think of themselves as a feminist, while, statistically, the same share (49 percent) disagrees.
Women are more likely than men to identify as a feminist, but differences are not substantial. Fifty-three percent of women identify as a feminist, compared to 43 percent of men.
Gender differences are markedly different across generations. Millennial (52 percent vs. 54 percent) and Generation X (43 percent vs. 49 percent) men and women are equally likely to identify as a feminist. Baby boomer men are less likely than women to claim the feminist label. The gender gap in feminist identity is only significant among baby boomers and Generation Z. Thirty-eight percent of baby boomer men and 50 percent of baby boomer women claim the label. However, it is among Generation Z that feminist identity is most polarized. Sixty-one percent of Gen Z women identify as feminist, compared to 43 percent of Gen Z men—an 18 percentage point gap.
Even if most Americans do not identify as a feminist, a majority believe that feminism has made America a better place. Nearly six in 10 (59 percent) Americans agree that feminism has improved American society. Thirty-nine percent disagree.
The gender divide in views about feminism’s benefits mirrors that in feminist identity. Women are 10 percentage points more likely than men to say that feminism has benefited the United States (63 percent vs. 53 percent).
Generational patterns are also similar. The largest gender gap in views about feminism is found among Generation Z adults. Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) Gen Z women and 52 percent of Gen Z men agree that feminism has made America a better place. The gender gap is still significant, but notably smaller, among millennials, Generation Xers, and baby boomers.
Comparing generational cohorts provides a unique way of illuminating political and social divisions in the United States and offers us the opportunity to glimpse at where society is headed.
Changes in technology, culture, and family life have led Generation Z to have distinct formative experiences. Compared to previous generations, Gen Z adults participated in outdoor activities less often, had fewer romantic experiences, and were much less likely to hold down a part-time job. They have less experience participating in religious communities than any previous generation. Whether social media or video games, technology has played a much more significant role in their adolescence than for any previous generation. As technological and societal changes accelerate, the differences between generations will grow, making them more relevant.
At this early stage, it’s difficult to know in exactly what ways the COVID-19 pandemic has altered American society. What is already apparent is that young adults were uniquely affected by the economic turmoil, social disconnection, and political acrimony created by the pandemic. No generation was more influenced by the pandemic than Generation Z, and most Gen Z adults felt that during their childhood, political leaders were not acting in good faith—a notable difference from the adolescent experiences of Generation Xers and baby boomers. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may take years to fully play out, and it may do so in ways that are not immediately detectable in surveys.
In the near term, many of these experiences may result in greater hardship, a more pervasive sense of dislocation, and more acute feelings of insecurity. If we take a longer view, we may find Generation Z develops a deeper appreciation of the importance of family relationships, civic connection, and social solidarity.
About the Authors
Daniel A. Cox is the director of the Survey Center on American Life and a senior fellow in polling and public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute. Under his leadership, the center is focused on public opinion and survey research on topics such as religious change and measurement, social capital, and youth politics.
Kelsey Eyre Hammond is a research associate and project manager for the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life.
Kyle P. Gray is a research associate at the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life.
The survey was designed and conducted by the AEI Survey Center on American Life. Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 5,055 adults (age 18 and up) living in the United States, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia. All interviews were conducted among participants of the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US general population, not just the online population. Interviews were conducted in Spanish and English between August 11 and August 20, 2023.
Initially, participants were chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households were then invited by telephone or mail to participate in the Ipsos KnowledgePanel. For those who agreed to participate but did not already have internet access, Ipsos provided a laptop and internet service provider connection for free. People who already had computers and internet service were permitted to participate using their own equipment. Panelists then received unique log-in information for accessing surveys online and were sent emails throughout each month inviting them to participate in research.
The data were weighted to adjust for gender, race and ethnicity, education, census region, household income, race by gender, race by age, and race by education. The sample weighting was accomplished using an iterative proportional fitting process that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables.
The use of survey weights in statistical analyses ensures that the demographic characteristics of the sample closely approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The margin of sampling error for the qualified survey sample is +/– 1.4 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. The design effect for the survey is 1.08.
[i] Jean M. Twenge, Generations (New York: Atria Books, 2023), 6. See also M. Kent Jennings and Richard G. Niemi, Generations and Politics: A Panel Study of Young Adults and Their Parents (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Legacy Library, 2016).
[ii] Daniel A. Cox, Emerging Trends and Enduring Patterns in American Family Life, AEI Survey Center on American Life, February 9, 2022, https://www.americansurveycenter.org/research/emerging-trends-and-enduring-patterns-in-american-family-life.
[iii] Kim Parker, “How Pew Research Center Will Report on Generations Moving Forward,” Pew Research Center, May 22, 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/05/22/how-pew-research-center-will-report-on-generations-moving-forward.
[iv] Arnold Lau and Courtney Kennedy, “Assessing the Effects of Generation Using Age-Period-Cohort Analysis,” Pew Research Center, May 22, 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/decoded/2023/05/22/assessing-the-effects-of-generation-using-age-period-cohort-analysis.
[v] US Surgeon General, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, 2023, https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-social-connection-advisory.pdf.
[vi] Jennings and Niemi, Generations and Politics.
[vii] Respondents to the survey who report that their lives were affected were asked to respond to the following question: “In just a few words, what is the MOST important impact, either good or bad, that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the course of your own life?” Responses were recorded and then coded as either positive, negative, neutral, or both positive and negative.
[viii] Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, “Who Do We Spend Time with Across Our Lifetime?,” Our World in Data, December 11, 2020, https://ourworldindata.org/time-with-others-lifetime.
[ix] Due to the limited share of younger Americans who do not use social media, Generation Z and millennials are combined for this analysis.
[x] Jeffrey M. Jones, “U.S. LGBT Identification Steady at 7.2%,” Gallup, February 22, 2023, https://news.gallup.com/poll/470708/lgbt-identification-steady.aspx.
[xi] Note that the age range is different between the two polls. In the 2021 survey, the Gen Z category included respondents age 18–24. The 2023 survey included respondents age 18–26. It’s possible that some of the difference is accounted for by these different age ranges, but even holding the age ranges constant between the two polls reveals a significant drop in support.