CAPE TOWN: Young South Africans are positive that they can look forward to a better quality of life than their parents, and believe their homeland is the best place in the world in which to live.

These were among the findings of a recent survey conducted by AC Nielsen on behalf of Reader's Digest South Africa. It polled 623 urban South Africans, aged 16-24, who were asked a range of questions on social issues and government policies.

Most of the sample supported the reintroduction of the death penalty. They are also opposed to military conscription and believe that a time limit should be placed on affirmative action policies. Only a minority worry about climate change or the influx of refugees.

Among the survey's other findings were ...

  • Over 95% believe they will achieve happiness and prosperity. Material wealth is high on the list of priorities and 71% said that earning lots of money would be an extremely important source of personal satisfaction.

  • They have high expectations, with over 80% saying it was highly likely they would own a car and a home.

  • They also believe opportunities exist and success is attainable through hard work. Asked about affirmative action, 65.2% said a time limit should be put on racial preferences in university admissions and job hiring.

  • Respondents rated unemployment as one of their top three social issues of concern. They also recognise that education and skills training are the keys to prosperity, with nearly 90% supporting the introduction of free education at public schools.
Lastly, young South Africans appear to differ from their counterparts elsewhere on the globe, in that 95% of them believe their parents to have set an excellent (or reasonable) example of right and wrong.

The full report in the September 2007 issue of Reader's Digest [not available online].

Data sourced from (South Africa); additional content by WARC staff