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Are young Europeans becoming more conservative?

Recently, the Atlas of European values was published. This extensive survey has set out to uncover the attitudes of Europeans on a range of different topics by asking 1.500 citizens of every country about their views (since 1981).

One of the most surprising findings of this edition, according to the Dutch researchers from the University of Tilburg, is a shift towards conservatism among young people. Social scientists generally expect younger generations to be more progressive compared to older generations. Yet, the results show that people in their twenties and thirties surprisingly hold more conservative attitudes on topics like abortion, divorce, euthanasia or suicide, compared to babyboomers. Researchers hypothesize that this shift might be a so-called cultural backlash against recent progressive developments.


One explanation could be that perceived uncertainty about the future, job security and the housing market might translate to more conservative views among young people.

Another reason could be that the progressive babyboomers grew up in a time where they could form their identity by rebelling against an established institute of values; the church.

Yet, younger generations have less conservative institutes to rebel against. In any case, more research is needed to establish the reason for these shifts and to confirm whether they will continue. 

Want to read more about European values and how they are developing? Find the whole report here.