Young America’s Foundation is pleased to release the findings of our exclusive poll of youth economic views, commissioned earlier this summer to coincide with the start of the 2019-2020 academic year.

YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise partnered with Echelon Insights, a nationally-renowned firm with expertise in digital and data-driven polling, to conduct an online poll of more than 2,000 Americans, aged 13 – 22 and representative of the country as a whole. Survey respondents included roughly 1,000 college-age students and 1,000 high school-age students. Our survey is unique in that it draws findings not only from college-age students, but also high school-age students.

Key takeaways from our findings

A majority of young people cannot accurately define socialism or free enterprise. The media and leftist leaders such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have popularized the notion that young people love socialism. Yet, our survey finds that young people don’t have a good enough understanding of socialism to determine their views on it.

The majority of young people feel the country is headed in the wrong direction (53%). That young people hold this view despite the record economic climate—job growth, wage growth, and decreased unemployment—we are seeing across America is indicative of the false narratives they are being told by the media and in the education system.


A significant percentage of young people self-censor due the environments on their campuses. Nearly half (46%) stated that they have stopped themselves from sharing their ideas or opinions in the classroom. Half of students (50%) attributed their self-censorship to being judged by their classmates.

The majority of young people consider themselves moderate or unsure on the ideological spectrum. Despite the increasingly leftist bias in our education system—from high school through college—many young people are skeptical of the Left’s ideas.