Netherlands' younger generation more conservative: study

Teenagers using their smartphones on a bench in Amsterdam
Teenagers using their smartphones on a bench in AmsterdamPhoto: BiruteDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Netherlands residents in their 20s and 30s are more conservative when it comes to issues like abortion and euthanasia than the generations before them, according to researchers at Tilburg University. That breaks the Netherlands' trend of becoming more and more progressive, the researchers conclude, AD reports.

The researchers used data from a European study that has been running for almost 40 years. Nearly 7 thousand Dutch people gave their opinion on issues like abortion, euthanasia, suicide and homosexuality over the years. The vast majority, including the younger generation, have little issue with these topics and acceptance has grown across the board. Roughly 75 percent of Netherlands residents are positive about free choice on abortion, for example. But for the first time in the past 40 years, the younger generation is less progressive than the generations before them. 

Netherlands residents born in the 90s and 80s are clearly more conservative than baby boomers, for example. 8.1 percent of people in their 20s and 11.5 percent of people in heir 30s think that abortion is seldom or never justifiable. Among people in their 50s nd 60s, it is around 7 percent. And the difference between younger and older generations is only getting bigger, the Tilburg researchers said.

"Younger generations seem to be looking for a new structure to hang their identity on", sociologist Quita Muis said to the newspaper. "In that they end up with things from the past." The researchers call it a "new conservatism" that is independent of religion. In the past, older generations were more conservative largely due to church influence. 

Muis thinks it is too early to say whether a conservative wind is starting up in the Netherlands, as is already blowing in the united States. "But the trend that the Netherlands is becoming increasingly progressive has clearly stopped."