Research news

Youth 2020 for Our Common Future

Photo by Nicole Ber

Publish Date: 11.04.2022

Category: Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 3 Good health and well-being, 4 Quality education, 5 Gender equality, 6 Clean water and sanitation, 8 Decent work and economic growth, 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure, 10 Reduced inequalities, 11 Sustainable cities and communities, 12 Responsible consumption and production, 13 Climate action, 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions, 17 Partnerships for the goals (Indicators)

A generation of young people is emerging that is creative and shows solidarity and compassion for all generations, including those not yet born. A generation that is also very concerned about existential problems and the future of our society. This is reported by researchers from the University of Ljubljana and the University of Maribor, who have joined forces in a study called Youth 2020 (Mladina 2020).

The Youth 2020 study was commissioned by the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth through a public contract. The Office issued a call for tenders for a survey that would provide insights into changes in the social profile of Slovenian youth, and thus also provide the research basis for shaping public policy in this area. The survey was conducted by a consortium of two public universities – the University of Ljubljana and the University of Maribor – under the joint coordination of Prof. Miran Lavrič and Prof. Tomaž Deželan. The study is based on a periodical empirical survey of young people, which both universities have already conducted separately in the past (e.g. Youth 2010, Youth 2000), and introduces a new partnership approach that overcomes the institutional and personal rivalry common in smaller academic communities. The study maintains methodological robustness and comparability with previous research in this field in Slovenia and abroad. At the same time, it introduces new conceptual and methodological elements in terms of raising new topics (e.g. civic spaces for young people) and exploring new approaches to familiar topics (e.g. participation), which puts it on a par with the most recent studies.

Thanks to its design, the study – which is based on a field survey on a representative sample of young people aged fifteen to twenty-nine and on biographical, partly structural in-depth interviews with young people – offers detailed insights into the long-term trends of the last twenty years, which considerably increases the value of the data obtained. The results of the study show, among other things, that demographic changes in Slovenian society and mobility patterns have a significant impact on the situation of young people. Even though the decline in the number of young people has slowed down in recent years and there is even positive net migration, the continuing decline in the share of young people in the total population poses many social and political risks, which ultimately have a strong impact on the educational and economic social subsystems.

The Youth 2020 study has shown that young people are aware of such demographic trends and are very concerned about them. What worries them is not the conflict between generations, but above all the fact that we could leave a broken state to future generations if the current unsustainable patterns in the social, environmental and economic spheres continue. In addition to the aforementioned sense of solidarity and sustainability among young people, the study also found stronger tendencies towards autonomy and, at the same time, lower expectations of others. One could conclude from this that the individualisation tendencies of young people, which are reflected in their basic values and views, are also expressed in the fact that they separate from their parents at an earlier age and are more willing to move abroad permanently. This willingness is also linked to the fact that young people find increasingly unfavourable conditions in the labour market, even though the general employment indicators may not show this. The unfavourable situation in the labour market, unaffordable housing, limited social mobility and generally unsustainable practises have significantly increased stress levels among young people and caused a general deterioration in their mental health. Young people are increasingly worried, both about the key areas of their lives and about the future of our society. It is therefore not surprising that one of the key messages of the Youth 2020 study is that young people are generally dissatisfied with their lives and the society in which they live. Another important – and positive – message is that they show a high level of awareness of the most important social issues and therefore see themselves as very capable of playing a decisive role in future social developments.

Check out the excellent RTV SLO documentary Kako je v naši domovini biti mlad (What It’s Like to Be Young in Our Homeland), based on the Youth 2020 study, and hear what Slovenian young people have to say, along with the findings of the researchers involved.


back to list