New Survey Reveals The Diversity Of Canada’s Millennial Generation Through Their Social Values

TORONTO, ON – February 15, 2017 A new national survey released today reveals a bold portrait of Canada’s Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995), that for the first time presents the social values of this generation, and the distinct segments that help make sense of the different and often contradictory stereotypes that so frequently are applied to today’s young adults.

The results show that Millennials cannot be lumped into a single group defined by their age, or by other demographic characteristics such as gender, region or socio-economic status. They are a diverse part of the Canadian society, made up of six social values “tribes”, each reflecting a distinct worldview and approach to life. While Millennials may share some common experiences and aspirations as befits their stage in life, there are notable differences in outlook and life path across these tribes, be they “Engaged Idealists,” “Bros and Brittanys,” or “Lone Wolves.”

The results show that Millennials cannot be lumped into a single group defined by their age, or by other demographic characteristics such as gender, region or socio-economic status

The study built on the foundation of Environics’ Research leading-edge social values research to better understand how Millennials are taking their place in society through the lens of their social values, with a focus on their life goals and what it means to be an adult, career aspirations and work experience, and political and social engagement.

Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • Fewer than half of Canadian Millennials say they have enough money to live the kind of life they want, and many feel they are not doing as well as their parents did in their youth. But this generation is notably optimistic about their future financial prospects, and this is most evident among those born outside Canada, and those with Asian or other non-white ethnic backgrounds.
  • What Millennials most want out of work and career is a good balance between work and their personal life, followed by financial security, wealth generation, and flexibility on the job. Making an important contribution to society is of strong importance to some Millennials and not so much to others, based on their social values.
  • Millennials with a post-secondary degree were asked, if they could do it over again, what would they would do. Just under half say they would have completed the same post-secondary education. But a slightly higher proportion indicate they would have followed a different path, either pursuing a different type of post-secondary education or done something else instead of getting a degree.
  • Low voter turnout has earned Millennials a reputation for being disconnected from politics and current events, but this is more stereotype than reality. Most follow news and current events at least daily if not more frequently, and significant proportions pay attention to politics at the local, national and international levels. Social media is the most common platform, but surprisingly large numbers also rely on such traditional media such as TV, print newspapers and radio.
  • One in four Millennials has been actively engaged in a cause or issue in the past year, mostly involving social justice, the environment, politics or health care. Such involvement is linked to education as well as social values. Members of this generation tend to get involved through online channels, but a significant proportion also seek to participate in person at events or group meetings.

“With Millennials now being the largest generation in the Canadian workplace, this study allows us to go beyond easy labels to understand their diverse values,” said Bruce Lawson, President of The Counselling Foundation of Canada. “An overwhelming 96% of Millennials in the study define having a steady job as the primary marker of adulthood – far more than owning a home, getting married or having children, which were key markers for previous generations. This underscores the need for career development to ensure Millennials have the skills, confidence and adaptability to navigate an ever-shifting economy.”

“Apathy is Boring is thrilled to be contributing to the only study of its kind in Canada, and to see an increased public interest in how Millennials think and act,” said Caro Loutfi, Executive Director at Apathy is Boring. “This study highlights the need to look at Millennials as the diverse generation that we are, and supports our own outreach efforts encouraging social and political engagement among the groups who would benefit the most.”

The study was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with The Counselling Foundation of Canada, RBC, the McConnell Family Foundation and Apathy is Boring.

The survey is based on interviews conducted online with a representative sample of 2,072 Canadians aged 21 to 36 across the country between July 6 and August 31, 2016. The sample was stratified by age, gender and region (margin of error statistics do not apply to online surveys that employ non-probability samples)

The Environics Institute for Survey Research is a non-profit public interest organization that conducts relevant and original public opinion and social research related to issues of public policy and social change. The Institute’s primary mission is to survey those not usually heard from, using questions not usually asked.

The Counselling Foundation of Canada is a private foundation, which champions learning and career development to help Canadians nurture the gifts and talents within themselves. Our vision is a day when all Canadians are living purposeful and productive lives, helping to build a better, more prosperous society.

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world. One of North America’s leading diversified financial services company, it provides personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities.

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation focuses on enhancing Canada’s ability to address complex social, environmental and economic challenges, through developing, testing, and applying innovative approaches and solutions; by strengthening the community sector; and by collaborating with partners in the community, private, and public sectors. We recognize that creating enduring change takes time, and involves more than granting.

Apathy is Boring, founded in 2004, is a non-partisan charitable organization that uses art and technology to educate youth about democracy, with the aim of increasing youth voter turnout, increasing youth engagement in the democratic process, and building a sustainable dialogue between youth and decision makers.

For more information contact:
Keith Neuman, Ph.D.
Environics Institute
Bruce Lawson
The Counselling Foundation of Canada
Stephen Huddart
J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
514-288-2133 ext. 229
Caro Loutfi
Apathy is Boring

Find out how Environics can help your organization

Related insights


366 Adelaide Street West
Suite 101, Toronto, ON
Canada M5V 1R9
416 920 9010


116 Albert St
Suite 300, Ottawa, ON
Canada K1P 5G3
613 230 5089


421 7th Ave SW
Suite 3000, Calgary, AB
Canada T2P 4K9
403 613 5735

Share This