Gen Z's students
Representational image Pexels

As the Generation Z continues to grow in numbers and proportion of the workforce, so does its influence in most issues dominating the public conversation. In this context, PRRI conducted a poll that laid out an extensive profile of this demographic, almost a quarter of which identify themselves as Hispanic.

From their political and sexual identity to their religious affiliation, members of this generation show drastic shifts compared to their predecessors. And considering that Hispanics are the second largest group behind Whites, the general answers also help paint an accurate picture of this sub-group, as well as the differences between Gen Z teens and adults.

Gen Zs stands out for its higher identification with the LGBTQ community compared to older Americans, with 15% saying they are bisexual, 5% gay or lesbian and 8% identifying as "something else." The figure of those not saying they are straight, 28% overall, is significantly higher than the 10% for all Americans and 12 percentage points higher than Millennials, the group that comes after them.

Politically, Gen Z adults lean slightly less towards the Republican Party than older Americans, with over half of Gen Z teens eschewing affiliation with any major party. Among Gen Z adults, 21% identify as Republicans, while 36% align with the Democratic Party. In contrast, more than half of Gen Z teens (51%) remain unaffiliated with either major political party.

Party affiliation
Respondents' political affiliation PRRI

The study also highlights a prevailing belief among Gen Z that generational change in political leadership is imperative for addressing the nation's problems. While 43% of Americans hold this view, 58% of Gen Z adults, including 74% of Democrats, concur. Majorities within Gen Z believe that older generations will never fully comprehend the struggles of younger Americans.

Gen Z adults emerge as a more liberal cohort, with 28% identifying as conservative and 43% as liberal. Gen Z teens, on their end, lean towards moderation, with 44% identifying as moderate. Notably, Gen Z women display a more liberal orientation compared to Gen Z men, although this gender gap diminishes among Gen Z teens. Furthermore, the political landscape reveals racial disparities, as white teens are more likely to identify as conservative than their non-white counterparts.

Religiously, Gen Z is characterized by greater diversity compared to older generations. While Gen Z teens often mirror their parents' religious affiliations, while Gen Z adults are less likely to identify as white Christians and more prone to religious non-affiliation, with a larger proportion (33%) saying they are not affiliated to any religion compared to those who identify as White Christians (27%).

40% of Gen X, 54% of baby boomers, and just 62% of the Silent Generation identified as White Christians. Gen Z Republicans, both adults and teens, exhibit higher religious engagement compared to their Democratic or independent counterparts.

Religious affiliation
Religious affiliation by demographic PRRI

"Less than half of Gen Z adults (45%) and millennials (42%) report that religion is the most important thing in their lives or one among many important things, compared with the majority of Gen Xers (54%), baby boomers (62%), and the Silent Generation (67%). By contrast, the majority of Gen Z adults (53%) and millennials (57%) say that religion is not as important as other things or not important at all, compared with 45% of Gen Xers, 37% of baby boomers, and 33% of the Silent Generation," reads a passage of the study.

In assessing employment perspectives, there is a consensus that the country has failed to adequately equip younger generations with the necessary skills for good-paying jobs. Moreover, opinions on the value of college education vary, with only half of Gen Z adults viewing it as a smart investment. Gen Z teens, in contrast, express more optimism about the financial impact of college on their future.

Alarmingly, Gen Z adults report higher levels of hostility, discrimination, and negative emotions compared to older Americans and Gen Z teens. Approximately one in five Gen Z adults have experienced discrimination based on various factors, with non-white Gen Z adults disproportionately affected. Those who form connections through in-person activities report fewer negative emotions than their counterparts who rely on social media for meaningful connections.

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