Youth Barometer 2018. Influence on the edge of Europe

Elina Pekkarinen & Sami Myllyniemi (eds.)

In Finnish: Vaikutusvaltaa Euroopan laidalla. Nuorisobarometri 2018.


The Youth Barometer is a publication series that studies the values, well-being and everyday life of young people aged 15–29 who live in Finland. It has been carried out annually since 1994. The Youth Barometer 2018 is based on 1901 phone interviews. It is on the theme of

politics and influence in Europe. The barometer also investigates attitudes to immigration,  Finland’s status in the European Union, young people’s trust in social institutions and their expectations for the future.

According to the Youth Barometer, 61 per cent of young people are interested in politics. Over the previous year 15 per cent of young people have participated in political activity and 45 per cent have influenced society in another way. Interest in politics among 18–29-year-olds increased from the 1990s until the beginning of the 2000s. After a small dip interest started to increase again and now looks to have levelled off. In the 2018 barometer, the share of those interested in politics to a certain extent increased. Correspondingly, the share of those who are completely indifferent is lower than it has ever been previously during the over 20-year period studied. The number of respondents who participated in political activity has also increased, especially among those under the age of 20.

The young people felt the most effective ways to have an influence are to stand for election, vote and actively participate in an organisation or youth council. The share of young people who believe that purchase decisions are an effective way to take a stand has increased from under one third in 2013 to 57 per cent. The share of those who consider political discussion an effective way of having an impact has also grown. The young people have chiefly participated by voting, with purchase decisions and by discussing political issues. The share of those who have influenced with their purchase decisions has risen significantly.

The majority of the young people who were interviewed for the Youth Barometer have grown up in Finland during its membership of the European Union. 66 per cent of the young people feel that membership of the European Union has been of benefit to Finland. This share has increased 18 percentage units from 2007 and is now at its highest level in the history of the Youth Barometer. About four fifths consider Europe to be a geographical area, 57 per cent the European Union and 43 per cent a community of values.

Free movement in Europe is considered important. 97 per cent of respondents feel that it is important for people to be able to travel and find out about other cultures. However, 22 per cent would be ready to close the borders. On the whole, Finnish young people have a positive attitude to multiculturalism.

In addition to the Youth Barometer’s statistics section, there are four articles, which each discuss their own theme. Markku Harrinvirta investigates young people’s interest in politics and ways of participating in politics. The article explains that young people participate in a diverse way in democratic activity also in the fields of traditional politics. Mikko Piispa discusses mobility and cosmopolitanism. According to the article young people either have a positive attitude to mobility or they have their reservations. Those who describe themselves as global citizens come from different backgrounds and some of them have travelled very little compared with other young people. Veikko Isotalo, Juha Herkman and Emilia Palonen look into populism among young people. According to the results populistic juxtaposition and attitude to Europe do not always follow party lines. But they are related to education, gender, age and socio-economic status. Kirsi Pauliina Kallio analysed the phrasing of the questions in the Youth Barometer from the perspective of lived citizenship and outlines themes that are not reached by the phrasing of the questions. The publication is concluded with three different perspectives of the Youth Barometer provided by Heikki Aittokoski, Antti Ronkainen and the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI).

Keywords: young people, Europe, politics, influencing, populism, immigration, political parties, trust, future, values