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Study: Youth attitudes in Great Recession shift toward helping one another

Great Recession youth are shifting their beliefs, says a new study. Despite media stories that lambast this generation with claims of narcissism, young people are thinking more about others than in generations past.

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Drew Miller poses for a photograph at a building under construction, Wednesday, in Silver Spring, Md. Miller quit a steady government contract job to take a chance on a company that's using 'smart technologies' to help big corporations cut lighting costs.

AP/Alex Brandon

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Drew Miller clearly remembers the day his father was laid off.

Miller, now 25, was a freshman at an Ohio college, full of hope and ready to take on the world. But here was this "red flag ... a big wake-up call," he says. The prosperous years of childhood were over, and his future was likely to be bumpier than he'd expected.

Across the country, others of Miller's generation heard that same wake-up call as the Great Recession set in. But would it change them? And would the impact last?

The full effect won't be known for a while, of course. But a new analysis of a long-term survey of high school students provides an early glimpse at ways their attitudes shifted in the first years of this most recent economic downturn.

 

Among the findings: Young people showed signs of being more interested in conserving resources and a bit more concerned about their fellow human beings.

Compared with youths who were surveyed a few years before the recession hit, more of the Great Recession group also was less interested in big-ticket items such as vacation homes and new cars — though they still placed more importance on them than young people who were surveyed in the latter half of the 1970s, an era with its own economic challenges.

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