In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism. The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it. It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
The results of the survey are difficult to interpret, pollsters noted. Capitalism can mean different things to different people, and the newest generation of voters is frustrated with the status quo, broadly speaking.
Yet 48 percent agreed that “basic health insurance is a right for all people.” And 47 percent agreed with the statement that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them.” “Young people could be saying that there are problems with capitalism, contradictions,” Frank Newport, the editor in chief of Gallup, said when asked about the new data. “I certainly don’t know what’s going through their heads.”
John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard, went on to personally interview a small group of young people about their attitudes toward capitalism to try to learn more. They told him that capitalism was unfair and left people out despite their hard work. “They’re not rejecting the concept,” Della Volpe said. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting.”
No mention was made in the article if millennials — or the surveyors — could define or actually know what capitalism actually is.