Survey finds unity between young and old at a divisive time

At a moment of sharp national division, here is a bit of good news: young and old are not at one another’s throats in this country.

A survey released on Thursday finds Americans of all ages have very little interest in the myth of “generation war” we hear about so often in debates about federal spending and entitlements, or from narrow-minded pundits pointing a finger at boomers for screwing it all up for millennials.

Instead, the generations seem to recognize their interdependence and respect one another, according to Encore.org, which has played a key role over the past decade in developing ideas and networks aimed at tapping in to the human potential of older Americans for the greater good.

encore-survey-chart1The survey found that young and old are remarkably in tune on the need for intergenerational cooperation as a source of national strength during a time of rapid population aging, growing racial diversity and political strife.

The survey research is tied to a major new youth mentoring initiative unveiled by the San Francisco-based nonprofit, whose Generation to Generation campaign aims to recruit and mobilize more than a million older adults to help young people thrive.

Marc Freedman

Marc Freedman

Encore’s campaign aims to change the national conversation on the role older people can play in the lives of the young. “We want to convey the message that instead of hanging on to fast-fading youth, older people need to be there for the young,” said Marc Freedman, Encore’s founder and CEO.

The survey findings are remarkable, considering the yawning generational gap on display in last week’s presidential election. Exit polling found that voters aged 18 to 29 preferred Hillary Clinton by a whopping 18 percentage-point margin, and voters aged 30 to 44 went for the Democrat by 8 points. Older voters preferred Republican Donald Trump by 8 to 10 percentage points.

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