Youth Barometer 2015

The Youth Barometer is an annual questionnaire study on the values and attitudes of young people between 15 and 29 who live in Finland, carried out since 1994. The 2015 Barometer is based on a total of 1894 telephone interviews, and its theme is everyday life management.

The various dimensions of everyday life management form a compact whole in the questionnaire. The financial and social questions, as well as those related to practical everyday matters, are closely related to each other. Things learned at home as a child support coping with everyday life, which in turn supports the experience of doing well in life. Challenges related to everyday life cross both generational and sectoral borders.

Serious conflicts in the childhood home and the divorce of parents are strongly related to problems with life management in young people. Even if problems in the childhood home are to some extent explained by the low level of education of the parents, the fact that problems descend to the next generation cannot be explained by the descent of education level alone. Rather, we are also dealing with more direct relationships between problems that do not depend on education.

The respondents mainly estimated the atmosphere at their current home to be positive. Almost 90 per cent experienced the atmosphere to be at least somewhat loving and supportive. The atmosphere was poorer in homes with lower income. Problems in the childhood home were visible as a poorer atmosphere in later stages of life. Problems related to practical everyday operations seem to be more common in those whose parents struggled with alcohol abuse. The childhood home, atmosphere within the family, and everyday life management are closely related issues.

The fluency of everyday life was studied through questions related to how the respondent deals with cooking, cleaning, and other such everyday chores. The general outlook was relatively positive, as the majority of the respondents felt that they deal well with these matters. Problems with everyday chores were clearly more common in boys than girls. The differences between the genders were particularly visible in laundering and cleaning. The everyday chores become easier with age, and young people with a higher education level deal better than others. Those who felt that they deal well with everyday chores were happier with their lives than others.

Everyday life management was also studied through questions related to life management, self-esteem, and social trust. The experience of life management has a positive relation to dealing with practical everyday chores. Life satisfaction is strongly explained through the experience of doing well in life and life having a meaning. The experience of doing well in life was higher in young people who considered their finances better, had become independent younger, and were less dependent on external financial aid. It is peculiar that according to the data in the Youth Barometer, deficiencies in taking care of the basic needs in childhood increased the experience of doing well in life. It is possible that such people learned early on in their childhood to take care of themselves, and therefore consider themselves to be doing well later on as well.

The most common time for going to sleep during weekdays was 11 pm, and the most common time for waking up 7 am. The average sleep time during weekdays was 8.2 hours, and 9.4 hours during weekends. Particularly those under 20 pay off their sleep debts from the weekdays during weekends. Everyday life management, like success at school, is on average poorer in those who stay up late during the working week. Satisfaction with one’s health was the highest in those who sleep 8–9 hours during the week or 9–10 hours during weekends.

Young women still drink slightly less than young men, but the difference is decreasing. Drinking for the effect has decreased fairly rapidly during the past years, as has regular smoking. The slight increase in drug use noticeable after the change of millennium seems to have decreased somewhat. The use of intoxicants is concentrated particularly among some boys.

The emphasis of the disadvantages of the various vices varies. The disadvantages of gambling and the use of cannabis were mostly concentrated on the financial effects, whereas harder drugs were seen to affect human relationships. The negative effects of excessive alcohol use were distributed quite evenly across the various areas of life. The disadvantages of drugs are seen as severe far more often than those of alcohol. The proportion of respondents who considered their own alcohol use to have affected their personal relationships and health was significantly higher amongst those who had grown up in homes where alcohol abuse was a problem than those whose childhood homes had not been affected by such issues. There was a strong link between regular use of intoxicants and lower life satisfaction, poor health, and problems in other areas of life.

Eating and cooking seem to be important to young people. Three out of four expressed interest in the food cultures of various countries, and a majority considered cooking to be an important hobby. Three out of four said they cook at home often, girls more often than boys. Those respondents who cook rarely and consider themselves not to be good at it, also had the poorest ability to deal with everyday chores.

Hobbies seem to be becoming more common. 87 per cent of the young people said they have at least one hobby, whereas in the 2012 survey, the number was 83 per cent. Those young people who had to interrupt their hobby or were not able to start it at all due to shortage of money, meet their friends less often than others.

Those with a steady income meet their friends more, feel lonely less often, and exercise more than others. The financial situation at the time of the interviews was a significant factor in satisfaction with leisure time, personal relationships, and life as a whole. The passing down of financial disadvantages through the generations can be seen in the data through the phenomenon that those who had experiences of financial problems in the family when they were growing up, also evaluated their own financial situation to be poorer at the time of the interview than others. However, the passing down of financial problems from the childhood family mostly only applied to those young people whose educational career remained short. In other words, higher education was a protecting factor.

58 per cent of those who had moved out of their childhood homes said that their parents help them financially. This has become more common within the past ten years. Those who relied on the financial support of their parents were less satisfied with their financial situation than others, which seems to mean that parental support is only used in real need. This interpretation is also supported by the fact that parents mostly support their children by buying them necessities.

Keeping in touch with friends daily online (75 %) is already more common than talking on the phone daily (40 %) and meeting face-to-face (52 %). The change has been rapid, and within only a few years, keeping in touch online has become more popular than talking on the phone. The share of those who talk to their friends on the phone daily is decreasing particularly among girls and the younger respondents.

Every third young person said they feel lonely at least sometimes. Only 4 per cent feel lonely often. Meeting face-to-face had more effect on feeling lonely than the other forms of staying in touch. Talking on the phone protects people from feelings of loneliness better and is more strongly related to meeting friends face-to-face than online contact.

Almost all of the respondents believed they will have a job in ten years’ time, that their financial situation will be good, and that they will have good friends. A positive outlook on the future is significant for life satisfaction. The belief in a financially stable future, for example, explains life satisfaction even better than the current financial situation at the time of the interview. Optimism increases happiness particularly in those young people with deficiencies in their current situation.

Measured using Finnish school system gradings, on a scale of 4–10, the young people were the most satisfied with their psychological health (8.8), personal relationships (8.5), and their physical health (8.4). The respondents were slightly less satisfied with the way they look (8.2), leisure time (8.1), physical condition (7.9), and particularly their financial situation (7.6). The average rating for satisfaction with life as a whole was 8.5, which has not changed significantly during the almost 20 years that the situation has been monitored