Different generations suffer from different anxieties, and those anxieties influence economic models. While Baby Boomers worry about rising inflation draining their retirement funds while they’re still aboveground, Gen Z is terrified that climate change means there will soon be no safe air to breathe nor water to drink.
Older Americans suffer from price growth, which is the fastest it’s been for more than a decade. In a Bankrate.com survey published Wednesday, three-quarters of Baby Boomers said inflation has negatively impacted their finances. Contrast that with 54% of Millennials and Gen Zers.
Meanwhile, 37% of Gen Z called climate change a “top concern,” according to a Pew Research Center study. A third of Millennials agreed, while only 29% of Baby Boomers were as worried.
Gen Zers are likelier to push for a green economy, inflation be damned. In that scenario, climate-friendly ventures would be rewarded, and those contributing to global warming, penalized. A carbon tax and a shift toward domestic production would have environmental upsides but could add to inflation.
A new mental health issue, eco-anxiety, may further drive the green economy. While there’s not yet an official clinical diagnosis or definition, a team of clinicians is working on it. “The symptoms of clinical anxiety are the same,” said Navjot Bhullar, a professor of psychology at the University of New England in Australia, as reported by Verywell. “There’s a sense of dread or doom and not being able to concentrate, with a physical side of heart palpitations.”
Of course, Gen Z is hardly the first generation to suspect the world was about to end. People have been predicting apocalyptic disasters throughout recorded history. Ever since World War Two, people have lived in fear of atomic bombs ending life on Earth. Generations who attended school between the 1950s and 1980s may remember practicing duck and cover drills, and some suffered from a mental health condition called nuclear anxiety. The difference this time? Well, the world does seem in more peril than ever, and we see the pollution, suffering, death and devastation on social media 24/7. That’s enough to spur climate dread in any generation. The green economy isn’t perfect. But it might be all we have.
Lead image via Ittmust