With political campaigns across the country accusing opponents of promoting “socialist” agendas, a professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government wanted to find out if young voters knew the features behind the term.
“We wanted to better understand what millennials are thinking as they become engaged in politics and public policy,” said David K. Rehr. “When do they learn the differences between capitalism and socialism? At what point in their lives do they understand the economic and political system they live in?”
A new survey conducted by the Schar School’s Center for Business Civic Engagement shows that the majority of millennials—some 40 percent of those surveyed—first learn about socialism and capitalism in high school. A majority of those surveyed said they were unaware of the negative impact of the political and economic system in Socialist countries.
“In other words, one out of five millennials don’t understand the market system and they lack real-world examples of democratic socialism,” said Rehr, who conducted the survey. “That surprises me because we live in a free market system.”
Respondents indicated they believe capitalism was a better economic system for promoting entrepreneurship, economic growth, and job creation. They believe socialism is more beneficial for social justice, equal opportunity, and economic fairness.
A total of 504 randomly selected respondents in the U.S. born between 1981 and 1996, demographically balanced to reflect the millennial population overall, participated in the survey called Millennial Views of Economic Systems. The study was funded by the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.
Schar School Fact: Research is fundamental: The current lifetime value of active grants at the Schar School is $25 million.