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Growing despair and polarization between young women & men impacts elections

15 April 2024

Liberalism among young women accelerated, but young men have stagnated in this regard.

A longitudinal analysis by international research agency Glocalities based on over 300,000 completed surveys in 20 countries between 2014 and 2023 reveals a growing divide between young men and young women. Young women have significantly strengthened their embrace of liberal and anti-patriarchal values over the last decade while young men increasingly are lagging behind in this trend.

It is a sign of the times that, while in 2014 older men (aged 55-65) were the most conservative and younger men (18-24) were significantly more liberal, almost 10 years later young men have become even less liberal than older men. Despite ongoing progress, the advancement of young men during the past decade towards liberal values has been the slowest compared to all other groups.

Growing despair and societal disillusionment among both young women and men

Over the last decade, there has been a surge in feelings of hopelessness and societal discontent among both younger men and women (18-24). Increasing feelings of despair and disillusionment are also present among citizens aged 25-34, and to a lesser extent among citizens aged 35-54. At the same time, people above 55 generally have become more hopeful and content with society as it is.

Radical right increasingly finds fertile ground among young men, which is already impacting elections

The increasing despair and discontent among young adults is fueling political divides even further. As political polarization increasingly extends into gender amidst growing disillusionment, it impacts elections around the world. Feelings of hopelessness, societal disillusionment and rebelling against cosmopolitan values partly explain the rise of radical right anti-establishment parties. Now young men are stagnating in their progress towards liberal values, the radical right in many countries increasingly resonates with disillusioned conservative segments among them, who do not feel that establishment parties are serving their interests.

This trend has already impacted elections in Poland, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia and South Korea. If policy priorities and electoral strategies remain unchanged, this trend will likely impact the European Elections in June, the US presidential elections in November and more elections to come.

Report download offers detailed analysis and context

You can download the report on this page and gain detailed insights into the following topics:  

  • Analysis and explanation of the international trends
  • Underlying causes and implications of the trends
  • Filter bubbles, algorithms and the need for policy change
  • How to counter regressive trends
  • How to build broad coalitions to help the young generation thrive
  • Case: Analysis of trends in 7 EU countries, which are home to 3 in 4 EU citizens
  • Case: Analysis of trends in the USA
  • Case: Narratives that resonate with young men in the EU who vote radical right
  • Methodology and applications of the Glocalities research approach

Martijn Lampert

Functie Research Director
Telefoon +31 20 58 98 370

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