Study: Utah Millennials Stand Apart from Nation

studyYoung Utahns are more likely to support gay rights and less likely to adhere to a religious faith, according to the fourth and final part of a study released Tuesday.

Millennials and Boomers: How Utah’s Generations Compare to Each Other and the Nation was undertaken by the Utah Foundation to determine how Utah millennials – those who were born from 1981 to the early 2000s – compare with older generations, both locally and nationally.

“Perhaps surprisingly, Utah followed national trends in regards to those who would describe themselves as supporters of gay rights,” according to the report. 42 percent of Utah millennials are in favor of gay rights, the highest among all generations. In comparison, 35 percent of Gen Xers (born from 1965 to 1980), 33 percent of baby boomers (born from 1946 to 1964), and 32 percent of the silent generation (born from 1928 to 1945) are supportive. Nationally, this number increased to 51 percent for millennials while other generations stayed roughly the same.

Respondents who identified themselves as being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were far less likely to support gay rights across all generations – only 15 to 20 percent.

The study found that more Utahns, both young and old, consider themselves religious than their national counterparts do. 48 percent of Utah millennials said they were religious, as opposed to 36 percent nationally. Gen Xers are about even (54 percent in Utah versus 52 percent nationally, while 63 percent of Utah baby boomers (compared to 55 percent nationwide) and 75 percent of silent generation members in Utah (compared to 61 percent nationally) identify as religious.

Just like with gay rights, these numbers change dramatically with Mormon respondents, who were almost 39 percent more likely than respondents of other religions. “This likelihood increased for Millennials, with LDS Millennials being 48 percent more likely than respondents of other religions to identify with the description. This is due to Millennials who identify with other religions or no religion being far less likely than LDS respondents to say the description of being a religious person fit them very well,” the report said.

The study also found a sharp difference in voter participation. Following national trends, younger Utahns are far less likely to be registered to vote than older Utahns. According to Mallory Bateman, a research analyst for the Utah Foundation, said that only 45 percent of millennials are registered to vote and 25 percent of them participated in the 2012 presidential election.

Survey respondents apparently overstated their voting behavior. “Over 90% of respondents indicated they were registered to vote. However, data shows that in 2012 only 63% of Utahns were registered to vote. This increased slightly in 2014 to 66%. This contradiction between datasets reflects trends found in recent research, which show that survey respondents tend to over-report their voting behavior on a consistent basis,” said the report.

According to the study, fewer Utahns consider themselves environmentalists than their national peers. Only 25 percent of millennials answered in the affirmative, compared with 32 percent nationally. Utah baby boomers were the most supportive of all generations, with 37 percent in favor, as opposed to 42 percent nationwide. Those who identified as environmentalists are almost 16 percent more likely than other respondents to indicate that public transit was an important attribute in their community.

Support for Utah Governor Gary Herbert was higher among the older generation. Overall approval sits at about 60 percent, with a quarter of respondents declining to answer the question. 77 percent of silent generation members interviewed are satisfied with the Governor’s performance, while 49 percent of millennials feel the same.

“The differences between Utah generations show the impacts that marital status, gender, education, and goals and values can have on political views. Although Utah is much more conservative than the nation as a whole, the variations seen within each generation show that Utah has a more diverse electorate than might meet the eye. This diversity could create a basis for further outreach and study on how to improve voter registration and participation in the state,” the report concluded.

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