Study: Generation Gap Largest It’s Been in 40 Years

“American adults from young to old disagree increasingly today on social values ranging from religion to relationships, creating the largest generation gap since divisions 40 years ago over Vietnam, civil rights and women’s liberation,” wrote Hope Yen, Associated Press reporter, in Monday June 29, 2009’s Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era.

Here is an excerpt from her article:

A survey being released today [Monday June 29, 2009] by the Pew Research Center high-lights a widening age divide after last November’s election, when 18- to 29-year-olds vote for Democrat Barack Obama by a 2-to-1 ratio.

Almost eight in 10 people believe there is a major difference in the point of view of younger people and older people today, according to the independent public opinion research group. That is the highest spread since 1969, when about 74 percent reported major differences in an era of generational conflicts over the Vietnam War and civil and women’s rights. In contrast, just 60 percent in 1979 saw a generation gap.

Asked to identify where older and younger people differ most, 47 percent said social values and morality. People age 18 to 29 were more likely to report disagreements over lifestyle, views on family, relationships and dating, while older people cited differences in a sense of entitlement. Those in the middle-age groups also pointed to a difference in manners.

Besides being interesting, this information is extremely relevant and important for public relations practitioners to consider. Given the vast differences in opinions and attitudes between generations today, it is important to consider your target audience and tune your pitches to better suit the age-group you are trying to reach. Today more than ever, it seems, failing to consider one’s audience thoroughly can risk alienating that audience all together.

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