Why Do the Young Reject Capitalism?

At the same time, they celebrate entrepreneurs and free enterprise. It’s a curious disconnect.

When did capitalism become anathema to young people—and why? About a year ago the Institute of Politics at Harvard released survey results showing that more than half of respondents between 18 and 29 do not support capitalism, the free-market system that underpins our economy. An astonishing one-third said they support socialism.

Clearly the tenets of capitalism are deeply and fundamentally misunderstood. No system has done a better job addressing the very issues that its critics think are important. Capitalism has stabilized our communities, created jobs, lifted people out of poverty, and empowered them to fulfill their dreams.

Consequently, the merits of America’s free-market system are inspiring economies around the world. According to the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes and Trends study, a global median of 66%, from developing and advanced countries, believe people are better off under capitalism. This view is particularly prevalent in emerging economies like Kenya, Nigeria and Vietnam, where growth has been ignited by expansion of the free market. Yet here at home capitalism is now condemned as an elitist system that enriches a few at the expense of the many.

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