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Millennials, Gen Z Are More Sustainability-oriented: Study

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Today’s younger generation can be the driving force for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), say researchers.

In a study questioning both commitments to sustainable behaviours and willingness to trade better pay to work for a more sustainability-minded company, the surveyed young adults in Japan made their preferences clear.

The results, published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, focused on achieving the UN’s SDGs.

Researchers issued two surveys investigating how people support the SDGs, which consists of 17 goals and 169 targets to achieve by 2030 — including ending poverty and ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all.

“Many people, in popular media or even in daily conversation, say that the younger generation is more socially conscious and has sustainable development goal-oriented behaviour, but scientific evidence is limited,” said researcher Tomomi Yamane from the Hiroshima University.

“In this study, we provide novel evidence that the younger generation preferred a sustainable lifestyle than the older generation. And younger people are willing to dispense income to work for SDG-minded companies,” Yamane added.

The first survey had a nationwide adult sample of 12,098 across all adult generations in 2019 and 2020, and it found that those between the ages of 18 and 30 were far more likely to value and practice sustainable behaviors, such as paying more for sustainability developed products.

Seemingly contradictory to their overall interpretation, the researchers also found from the first survey that the younger generations are more concerned about finding a secure, well-paying job than older generations. However, the younger generation is more willing to be paid less to work for an SDG-minded company, according to Yamane.

The second survey sampled 668 university students to understand the job preferences and how pay and company values may interact for the younger generation.

The probability of a participant selecting the least SDG-minded company was about 28 per cent, even if offered a high salary.

The probability of selecting a highly SDG-minded company increased to 56 per cent, even with the lowest pay. The probability of a participant electing to work at an SDG-minded company with high pay was 87 per cent.

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