Gen Z does not trust institutions, poll finds

Sep 26, 2023, 9:13 AM | Updated: 11:16 am

FILE - The White House, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)Cred...

FILE - The White House, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new poll from Gallup revealed that Gen Z has very little trust in the government, as well as other institutions. 

Sam Abrams, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of politics and social science at Sarah Lawrence College said it is not surprising. 

“I think the reason for this is that they’ve grown up in a period of incredible polarization, incredible dysfunction,” said Abrams. 

Gen Z, short for Generation Z is comprised of those born between 1997 and 2012, according to USA Today

Members of the generation don’t remember what a small government or a good government can do, according to Abrams. Gen Z sees “the lumbering government, they see the dysfunctional government, they see anger, [and] they see inefficiency.” 

Abrams said that Gen Z-ers dislike the inefficiency and polarization of the modern American government. Furthermore, Abrams said, “they don’t know what it’s like to see a government that’s hopeful, that promotes the individual, that promotes business.” 

Gen Z trusts science

In contrast with their distrust in institutions, Gen Zers have a great trust in science. Abrams said that he has noted a preference for reason among the college students he teaches. Many college students in America right now belong to Gen Z. 

“[Science is] one of the few things they do trust … because they say ‘look there’s proof,'” Abrams said. 

They like the idea of scientific reason, however, it gets muddled when the science is politicized, said Abrams. 

Decline of institutions

“[Gen Z has] a very arm’s length relationship with institutions,” Abrams said. They have grown up in a time where family and church, among other institutions, have declined. 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a shift in institutions occurred. Instead of teaching members their values, institutions began sending money to various groups. 

“It’s performative … we pay money to various groups to say ‘this is what we believe in’ and then they lobby for us and … sort of express our values, but they don’t help us shape our values,” said Abrams of the institutional shifts. 

Abrams said to Gen Z, institutions are “amorphous things in the distance.” There is a lack of community, and they are the “loneliest group of Americans.” 

Community and institutions need to be rebuilt, according to Abrams. That begins with leaders who promote civility and unity. 

Leaders who actually lead, instead of performatively doing so, are the key to rebuilding institutions, Abrams

“With the right leadership, I’m hoping institutions can be rebuilt,” said Abrams. 

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Gen Z does not trust institutions, poll finds