COVID-19 Youth Survey

How COVID-19 is Shaping Young People’s Perceptions of the Future

The adjustments, sacrifices, and other life changes young people ages 15-21 are making during the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting their perceptions about their future, from their career goals to how they value college.

About the Survey

From September 2020 until March 2021, we will release findings from nationwide online polls surveying Black and Hispanic youth from a broad spectrum of household incomes and white youth from households with lower incomes. This research was conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research with support from Equitable Futures, a project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

In our most recent brief we explore how the latest wave of events and conversations around racial justice are affecting young people’s perceptions of their future and work.

An earlier brief, published in September 2020, describes how young people are experiencing COVID-19 disruptions and the ways in which these disruptions have altered their education and future career aspirations.

Share the Findings

How is #COVID19 shaping young people’s perceptions of their future? Learn the answers in a new survey of Black and Hispanic youth and white youth from households with lower incomes equitablefutures.org/covid19 #equity

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Key Findings from the Survey

Updated December 2020

The majority of respondents (67%) are paying attention to recent conversations or actions around policing and racial justice in this country.

Across race and gender, two-thirds of respondents (67%) are paying a great deal of attention (36%) or some attention (31%) to events and conversations related to policing and racial justice. The proportion of Hispanic respondents who are paying either a great deal or some attention to racial justice issues is somewhat higher than the numbers of Black and white respondents (71%, versus 64% and 65%, respectively).

Across race and gender, many young people are engaged in racial justice issues.

The types of engagement vary by racial groups and gender. Hispanic, Black, and white female respondents say they are talking about racial justice with their families (51%, 45%, and 52%, respectively) more than male respondents.  Young Black male respondents report slightly higher levels of participation in marches, protests, rallies and similar in-person events (24%) than the sample average (17%).

While COVID-19 disruptions may create feelings of uncertainty in young people’s lives, a majority of respondents view recent racial justice protests and uprisings as an opportunity and expect to see a positive future impact from these events on their communities.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents say the way they are thinking about their future education and career goals is at least somewhat impacted by the coronavirus outbreak (69%). A near equal proportion, 66 percent, say their thinking about future education and career goals is at least somewhat impacted by protests around police violence and racial justice.

Fifty-six percent of all respondents feel that the conversations and actions on policing and racial justice will eventually have a positive impact on their communities.

Share The Findings With Your Network

The findings from this survey have implications for educators, employers, and programs that work with youth. Below are sample posts and graphics to share on social media.

  • How is #COVID19 shaping young people’s perceptions of their future? Learn the answers in a new survey of Black and Hispanic youth and white youth from households with lower incomes equitablefutures.org/covid19 #equity
  • New survey: #COVID19 is changing young people’s feelings about whether college is worthwhile. What does this mean for their economic prospects and our country’s workforce? equitablefutures.org/covid19
  • The stakes during #COVID19 are especially high for Black and Hispanic youth and white youth from households with lower incomes because the pandemic is exacerbating existing economic inequalities. Learn more: equitablefutures.org/covid19 #equity

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