Hvornår er man ung?

  • Peter Gundelach
  • Esther Nørregård-Nielsen


Peter Gundelach and Ester Nørregård-Nielsen: When is one young? The article analyses the making of value boundaries between youth and adulthood based on data from the Danish part of the European Values Survey 1981-1999. Two approaches are discussed - an age perspective and a generation perspective - and the article investigates variations in the values of the population inrelation to work and politics. Multivariate analyses show that the values of the 18-30 year old respondents vary according to the respondent’s gender and life situation. The age perspective demonstrates that there are only small value differences in the population as such and significant age-differences occur only on a few specific variables around the age of 50. The generation perspective on the other hand shows several differences among generations, but the significant value differences appear among the generations born around 1950. If being young is associated with an age span from 18 to 30 - as it is often seen in the literature - the analysis presented here questions the existence of specific sets of values for young persons. To the degree that age or generation is important to understand value differences it is our conclusion that is not important whether the respondent is younger or older than 30 years or belong to the youngest generations. In general in Denmark the main value differences instead appear between persons born before or after the 1950s. One explanation might be that people born after the 1950s are raised in a welfare system characterised by freedom, independence, and high levels of education and consumption These values were acquired when the respondents were young and are maintained as they grow older. In a value sense the respondents wish to stay young forever.