We live in an age when patriotism is expressed in various, sometimes divisive ways. Some people prefer traditional displays of flags and “The Star Spangled Banner.” While younger Americans may have a less tangible interpretation, focused on ideals and a way of life.
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In aggregate, enthusiastic American pride has steadily declined since 2003, even dropping below pre-9/11 numbers. When looking at self-reported patriotism, it’s easy to see why.
Patriotism in America rises notably with age. Older generations express it more deeply.
Just 46% of gen-Z agree with the statement “I am patriotic.” Baby boomers are the most patriotic.
So what drives low patriotism among gen-Z and millennials? While a piece of this is likely age related (a “youth mentality”), much of it maps to shared events and endowments.
Very different events shape views when it comes to patriotism. Those living through distinct periods of American history experience unique ups and downs that alter their sense of nation.
The key shared event for young consumers is 9/11. Gen-Zers were mostly born post-9/11. They came of age in a time of uneasiness around the War on Terror. They also see a dwindling confidence in government.
This climate of uncertainty also extends to millennials. Their entry into the working world coincided with the Great Recession, which disproportionately affected them.
These events, which happened at key impressionable times, likely affected the younger generations profoundly.
Gen-Z and millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse generations. Additionally, it’s vital to note that many are part of early-stage immigrant families. Being part of a minority, or having concrete ties to and experience with a foreign country, could affect interpretations of patriotism.
More details around race/ethnicity and immigration is available in our genYZ segmentation study work.
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