Study: Most young Germans behave responsibly during COVID-19; 72% take hygiene rules seriously.

Klaus Hurrelmann consulted on the annual survey “Young Germans 2021".

Since the beginning of the pandemic, reports of partying teenagers have circulated in the media, conveying images of recklessness and a lack of solidarity in following public hygiene rules to curb contagion. But new research shows this image to be largely false, according to youth researcher Simon Schnetzer and Klaus Hurrelmann, Professor of Public Health and Education at the Hertie School. The two researchers analyzed the survey results of the study “Young Germans 2021” in a preview published on November 26. The full study, which shows connections between responsible behaviour and gender, education or religion, will be published in early 2021.

Although only 11% of adolescents and young adults between the ages of 14 and 39 belong to the coronavirus risk group, the vast majority (72%) considers it important to follow the hygiene rules. 71% say that they behave considerately because they do not want to endanger members of their family. Asked if they thought it was important to refrain from partying because of the pandemic, two thirds of young people surveyed said yes, and only 9% responded with a clear “no”.

The study “Young Germans 2021” is based on a representative online survey of the German-speaking population aged 14 to 39 years, also known as Generation Z and Y. A total of 1,602 young people were interviewed for the study.

“Finally, we have reliable data that paints a more realistic picture of the young generation’s attitude towards the coronavirus,” says Klaus Hurrelmann, who consulted on the survey.

The respondents’ answers vary greatly according to gender and education. Young men are less willing to avoid parties than young women, as young women are more afraid of becoming infected. And while young men perceive their economic risk to be higher than that of young women, the pandemic has actually had a stronger negative effect on the financial situation of young women.

In addition, the higher their level of education, the more considerate young people are. According to the study, 34% of those with secondary school qualifications do not behave responsibly, compared to only 22% of those with a university degree.

The study also finds that young people with a strong religious orientation have been less affected by the crisis; they are more optimistic and more successful, regardless of which religion they belong to. A strong faith seems to go hand in hand with a high degree of confidence in the future and resistance to the uncertainties, changes and adversities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers said.

“Young Germans” is an annual survey founded in 2010 by the youth researcher Simon Schnetzer. It is a privately financed initiative.

Find more information about the survey (in German) here.

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Views expressed by the author/interviewee may not necessarily reflect the views and values of the Hertie School.

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