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Is capitalism a dirty word? We asked Gen Z

March 29, 2021, 11:30 PM UTC

As the next generation’s attitudes towards economic systems evolve, politicians and business leaders alike should pay attention.

Fortune-Survey has found that Gen Z views capitalism less favorably than older generations. We teamed up with SurveyMonkey to poll 2,000 adults in the U.S. between March 11 and 15* on their sentiments towards “capitalism” and “socialism,” concepts they defined on their own terms.

Among all respondents, Fortune found that 65% have a positive view of capitalism compared to 32% who have a negative view. Baby boomers (73%) and Gen Xers (62%) held the highest level of positive views. That contrasts the 56% of millennials and 57% of Gen Zers who hold positive views. But for Gen Z, 57% is notably higher than what the stereotype of the generation’s progressive political beliefs would imply.

Socialism fares worse, but sentiments diverge by generation again. Only 42% of all U.S. adults say they have a positive view of socialism, compared to 55% who have a negative view of socialism.

The majority of baby boomers (62%) and Gen Xers (58%) hold negative views of socialism. Among millennials and Gen Zers respectively, just 41% and 40% view socialism negatively. Meanwhile, 56% millennials and 58% of Gen Zers view socialism positively.

While young Americans hold more favorable views of socialism than their older peers, they still prefer capitalism as a whole. On a net basis, Gen Z (+12 percentage points), millennials (+3 points), Gen X (+31 points), and baby boomers (+41 points) all prefer capitalism when the system is pitted against socialism.

*Methodology: The Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll was conducted among a national sample of 2,000 adults in the U.S. between March 11 and 15. This survey’s modeled error estimate is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The findings have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography.

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