UK millennials believe colonising Mars is more realistic than achieving financial stability. Here’s why.

In the same week that Elon Musk announced more details around his Mars mission, Streetbees explored why young people are approaching the same page as the Tesla CEO — and why Brexit is behind it.

Yes, this is a satellite orbiting the Earth. But as technology continues to advance and wages continue to stagnate, many young people are looking beyond this planet when it comes to thinking about a future.

Whichever way you look at it, youthful aspiration is intrinsically linked to wider economic confidence. June’s elections showed us that there is an emerging willingness to break from the consensus for Britain’s 18–25 year olds, but a closer look into their national psyche indicates a generation of alienation — from politics, from the housing market and, in some cases, from our planet entirely.

Where the wider population should be concerned is that levels of aspiration have begun to suffer across the board for people in this age bracket, and the Streetbees study brings this into sharp focus: a higher percentage (17%) are of the opinion that colonising Mars is a more realistic possibility in the next century than achieving financial stability (16%) or world peace (10%).

The notion of realism in this context shouldn’t be scoffed at either — only 4% of people believe that saving to buy a house is a realistic priority for them over the course of the next year.

This is where the link between lack of trust and lack of confidence is able to be viewed in sharp focus. Streetbees’ recent poll shows just 6% of people aged 18–25 trust national government on a general level (rising to 9% when asked about local government bodies), and 62% believe politicians are not acting in their best interests when making the key decisions that’ll affect their future.

The cause? As countless political commentators have addressed over the past year, it’s difficult to look beyond the looming shadow of Brexit as a starting point for much of this disillusionment. The perceived uncertainty surrounding the negotiation process feeds into a general feeling among those aged 25 under that they are collateral damage as a result of a situation they, broadly speaking, did not vote for.

When asked what direction they felt the country was going in, 52% said negative, compared to just 14% who said the opposite.

The main driver for this? You guessed it — Brexit, with 56% of the negative segment viewing the referendum result as the reason for their pessimism.

Brexit will make us all poorer”, said one, “and significantly reduce our opportunities to work in Europe”. “The implications of the vote make me worried about my personal finances and job security”, said another. These themes — job opportunities and income — were present throughout.

Naturally, this feeling of despondency filters into their personal lives, with figures suggesting that there has been a psychological impact on this demographic that has been largely ignored by the national press.

One example? 62% suggest Brexit has already had a negative impact on them personally, or believe it will do in the future — and it doesn’t end there, Streetbees found.

So where does this leave us? Or, more accurately, where are we heading?

Regardless of whether they voted or not, young people are showing plummeting levels of positivity around the idea that politicians have either the ability or the desire to enact the changes they wish to see on both a national and global level.

Over 93% feel that MPs are not the ones that’ll drive positive changes within society — instead, the votes of confidence are directed towards business leaders (20%), social entrepreneurs (29%) and themselves (67%).

If this trend continues to grow, it’s not difficult to envisage where, when pushing for progress, this generation will place their faith en masse.

In a world where travelling Mars is seen as a more viable prospect than owning a house, the message is simple: the balance of trust is beginning to shift.

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A quick word on our methodology: The figures in the article are taken from three separate pieces of field research, carried out between June and August 2017, with each of the 520 participants aged between 18–25. All of the data was collected by mobile and web surveys, and is accurate to within 3 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Streetbees is an independent research platform, founded on the principle of humanising how we collect data. Join our community today by downloading the Streetbees app.