Asian youth feel happy and helpless

The future belongs to the young. This is especially evident in parts of Asia. How young Asians see the world, their own futures and those of their countries often differs from the attitudes of their elders.

Their differing views may go a long way toward determining their fate, that of their nations and of Asia.

Young people ages 18 to 33, known as Millennials in some countries because they came of age in the 21st century, account for 50 per cent of the adult population in Pakistan, 43 per cent in Bangladesh, 41 per cent in India, 39 per cent in Malaysia and 38 per cent in Indonesia.

But they are only 20 per cent of the adult population in Japan, highlighting the fact that the rest of Asia is on a different demographic trajectory than Japan.

The implication of such population differences is widely analysed in economic discussions.

The shrinking workforce in Japan inhibits growth while the growing workforces in other Asian nations fuel their economies.

Yet generational differences in attitudes about the future and the world around them also have broad implications for Asian societies.

When, in a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, asked to place themselves on a ladder where 10 represents the best possible life and zero represents the worst possible life, seven-in-ten Vietnamese young people and roughly six-in-10 Indonesian, Chinese and Malaysian young people said they currently stand somewhere between the seventh and 10th steps.

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