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Press release: Connected, Yet Divided: Telefónica Survey of the Millennial Generation Reveals Digital Natives Are Optimistic About Their Individual Futures Despite Splits Across Political, Economic and Technology Outlooks

Survey Defines Top 11 Percent of Generation Y Who Will Drive Tomorrow’s Economy Through Innovation, Social Activism and Ambition.

The vast majority of today’s 18-30 year-olds – members of the “Millennial generation” – are true believers in all that technology has to offer. More than 80 percent believe technology has made it easier to overcome language barriers and get a job and 36 percent believe an education in technology is most important for ensuring future personal success. A new TelefónicaFinancial Times survey of more than 12,000 Millennials in 27 countries also shows that Millennials’ interests extend far beyond technology – to concern about the economy, the environment, social inequality, education and personal freedoms.

Launched today at London’s Royal Opera House, Telefónica’s Global Millennial Survey is the largest and most comprehensive survey of Millennial adults aged 18-30 conducted to date. The new research indicates that Millennials – also known as Generation Y – are generally optimistic about their potential for achieving personal success. More than two-thirds of the respondents – 68 percent – believe they have the opportunity to become an entrepreneur in their own country or develop and bring an idea to the market. And, 62 percent are confident in their ability to make a difference in their local communities. Yet, while more than two-thirds – 69 percent – believe that “technology creates more opportunities for all,” 62 percent say it has also widened the gap between the rich and poor.  Technology is also poised to be a new policy tool – 90 percent of Millennials agree technology has made them better informed about political issues in their country, despite 52 percent believing that their country’s current political system does not represent their values and beliefs. 

“Our survey provides the first truly in-depth look at the Millennial generation that is both realistic about having to overcome a number of challenges related to the economy and career development, yet largely confident of their own ability to succeed,” said César Alierta, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Telefónica. “The research reveals new insights into what societal issues are impacting this generation, which will help us assess not only how we engage with our customers, but also to identify impactful solutions that will strengthen our global society, including promoting a spirit of entrepreneurialism, empowering digital literacy, and continuing our commitment to education and sustainable operations.”

Survey Reveals Regional Differences Regarding Optimism and Opportunity: China Viewed As Future Economic Leader

Despite their confidence in the promise of technology, Millennials are less optimistic about the economy: only half of those surveyed believe global (48 percent) and regional (50 percent) economies are headed in the right direction. They also are cautious about their job prospects. Most (63 percent) say it is difficult for people of their generation to make the progression from school to the workplace – this is felt most strongly among Western European Millennials (74 percent). And although 55 percent of Millennials worldwide believe that having a decent-paying job is a right, 45 percent consider it a privilege.

The survey results also show marked differences between regions. Asian Millennials expressed the most optimism about the economy: 65 percent believe that both their regional economy and the global economy are on the right track. In particular, Chinese Millennials are the most optimistic about their country, with 93 percent saying that their country’s best days are ahead, compared to 67 percent of Millennials reflecting similar confidence in their own markets worldwide.

Following this optimism out of Asia, Latin American Millennials are also positive about their region’s future. Seventy-eight percent believe their country’s best days are ahead, compared to 67 percent worldwide. Latin American Millennials also believe in their ability to create global change, with 62 percent saying they can make a global difference – more than any other region and surpassing the worldwide average of 40 percent. 

Most Millennials worldwide predict that China will be the biggest driver of growth for the global economy in the next 10 years (58 percent). However, this sentiment is not shared by Millennials in India who believe (60 percent) that their country – not China – will instead be the economic leader. Additionally, the survey found a unique difference in motivation factors for Millennials in China and India. Chinese Millennials are motivated by a great economy, believing that their country’s best days are ahead and that the economy is headed in the right direction. In contrast, Indian Millennials appear to be motivated by a sense of opportunity and a drive to make a difference, more strongly believing that globalization creates more opportunities for all, believing they can make a local difference, and having a strong entrepreneurial drive.

Only 26 percent of respondents in Western Europe think the global economy is on the right track. And, only 33 percent of those in Central and Eastern Europe have a positive outlook for their regional economies. Likewise, North American Millennials are not as optimistic – only 47 percent believe the best days of their country are ahead.

“This generation has the guts, intelligence and awareness to tell all of us some important truths. They get that technology affects everything from equality to climate change. I really take the views of these Millennials, the digital natives, seriously, and so should smart companies and governments,” said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission. “These young men and women are the future. If you want to succeed you need to know what they care about - such as reducing the gender gap, improving the quality of education and increasing access to technology – and work with them to make concrete positive changes."

Millennial Leaders: Guiding Their Generation Into the Future

Even among such a large number of young people whose views and attitudes reflect generally positive attitudes toward technology, entrepreneurship and the ability to make a difference locally, the Telefónica survey identified some who stand out from the rest – the 11 percent of survey respondents who comprise a group defined as the “Millennial Leaders.” 

The Millennial Leaders are those respondents that strongly agree they are on the cutting-edge of technology, believe they can make a difference in their local communities, and believe they have opportunities to become entrepreneurs in their country or develop and bring an idea to market.

“The Millennial Leaders are those who are most likely to drive change through their use of cutting-edge technology, participate in solving local and global challenges and strive for career leadership,” said José María Álvarez-Pallete, Chief Operating Officer of Telefónica. “They represent the greatest potential of their generation to improve our society and evolve into the global leaders of the future. The challenge we face as a society is how to shift the 11 percent to become the majority of Millennials.”

While 30 percent of all global Millennials surveyed say technology has been one of the factors that has most influenced their lives, 44 percent of those identified as Millennial Leaders believe technology has been a key influencer. Additionally, 72 percent of these generational leaders say they have an excellent personal knowledge of and comfort level with technology, compared to only 30 percent of all respondents. 

More than two-thirds – 66 percent – of the Millennial Leaders believe that making it to the top of their career is very important, compared to 43 percent of all global Millennials, and 61 percent say that it was very easy or somewhat easy to make the progression from school to the workplace.

Millennial Leaders are civically engaged and use technology to keep themselves politically informed. Almost half (46 percent) say they always participate in their country’s political process (compared to 28 percent worldwide) and two-thirds (67 percent) strongly agree that technology has made them better informed about political issues in their country (compared to 38 percent worldwide).

Among respondents in all 27 countries, the 10 countries with the greatest percentage of Millennial Leaders were, in descending order: Colombia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Venezuela, India, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and the United States. The future leaders of the world are expected to come from Latin America as the region has six countries in the top 10.  

New Gender Gap Emerges in Views on Technology

The survey points to a new gender gap in how men and women view their use of technology and its impact on their lives. For example, 80 percent of men polled consider themselves on the cutting-edge of technology, compared to 69 percent of women. Among the regions surveyed, North American Millennials experience one of the largest gender gaps: 87 percent of North American men consider themselves on the cutting-edge of technology, compared to 70 percent of North American women.

Additionally, male respondents believe more strongly than women (39 percent to 22 percent) that technology has had an influence in shaping their outlook on life and that technology is the most important area of study to ensure future personal success (42 percent for men versus 29 percent for women).

The survey also provides a fresh look at Millennials’ views on a broad range of current issues: 

  • Millennials in North America, Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe consider the economy to be the most important issue facing their region. Among North American respondents, education was considered the second-most important issue; in Western Europe social inequality was ranked number two; and Central and Eastern Europeans ranked two issues – social inequality and poverty – as the second-most important issues. In Asia, the economy was tied with social inequality as the most important regional issue. 
  • Millennials say the three most important ways to make a difference in the world are by providing more access to education and improving the quality of education (42 percent), protecting the environment (41 percent) and eliminating poverty (39 percent).
  • Among Latin American Millennials, social inequality and education were tied at 19 percent as the most important issue facing their region, and in the Middle East and Africa, terrorism was considered the most important issue (19 percent), followed by political unrest (13 percent).  
  • Millennials have strong expectations for personal freedoms and privacy, believing that it is a right to choose who you marry, to vote, to be able to express yourself, to privacy and health care. 
  • Highly concerned about privacy, 91 percent are concerned about the security and privacy of their data and information online and 95 percent believe greater security measures should be implemented to protect their online identity. 
  • Globally, 53 percent of Millennials believe climate change is a “very pressing” issue. The numbers varied widely by region, however, with 70 percent of Latin American Millennials ranking climate change as a very pressing issue, compared to only 36 percent of North American respondents. 
  • Although they are confident about the opportunities they have to become entrepreneurs, 39 percent of Millennials worldwide believe they will have to work indefinitely and will not be able to retire. This is felt most strongly among Millennials in Western Europe and in Central and Eastern Europe (56 percent and 60 percent, respectively).

In alignment with the survey results that shed affirming light on the power of technology to affect societal change and empower this next generation of leaders and innovators, Telefónica believes that the possibilities of technology should be open to everyone and is engaged in several significant activities that make a real impact on the lives of people and society. These programs include:

  • Campus Party Europe: Bringing together the brightest young digital minds to innovate for Europe from 2 – 7 September 2013 in London. Speakers will include Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes.
  • Think Big Youth Program: Investing in the ideas and digital literacy of thousands of young people.
  • Talentum: Creating job and digital learning opportunities for young people and university graduates. 
  • Wayra: Supporting young digital start-ups with a worldwide average of investing in a new start-up every three days since it launched operations and creating nearly three new jobs every day. 
  • ProNiño: Eradicating child labour in Latin America.
  • Open Web Device Platform: New operating system developed with not-for-profit Mozilla to allow developers to produce apps with fewer resources.

The survey results will be discussed in-depth at the FT-Telefónica Millennials Summits: The Interactive Generation in London on 4 June and in Sao Paulo on 6 June, 2013. The series will conclude on 19 September, 2013 in Brussels with a call-to-action by policy makers chaired by Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes.

For more information on the survey, please visit

Survey Methodology

Telefónica in partnership with the Financial Times, commissioned 12,171 online quantitative interviews among Millennials, aged 18-30, across 27 countries in six regions including North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Middle East / Africa. Penn Schoen Berland conducted the survey from 11 January – 4 February 2013. Millennials from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela were surveyed. Country sample sizes represented in the global number are weighted by the percent of the population in each country with access to the Internet. The global margin of error is +/-.9 percent.

About Telefónica

Telefónica is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world in terms of market capitalisation and number of customers. From this outstanding position in the industry, and with its mobile, fixed and broadband businesses as the key drivers of its growth, Telefónica has focused its strategy on becoming a leading company in the digital world. The company has a significant presence in 24 countries and a customer base that amounts close to 316 million accesses around the world. Telefónica has a strong presence in Spain, Europe and Latin America, where the company focuses an important part of its growth strategy.

For more information about Telefónica, visit Start the conversation with #TEFMillennials or tweet your feedback to @tefdigital.

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