Report: Understanding Youth Perceptions Towards Authoritarianism

A Report from the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins and International Republican Institute

Click here to read the report.

During a pivotal mega-election year around the world, which marks a global inflection point for democracy, the role of young people is front and center.  Are young people uniquely positioned to engage on the front lines, innovating and pushing for new forms of democracy?  Or are they so frustrated with false promises of democracy that they are turning towards authoritarianism?

The SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University the International Republican Institute explore these questions in this newly released report, “ Understanding Youth Perceptions Towards Authoritarianism.”  The report uses new polling and qualitative interviews to explore whether youth are actually becoming more inclined to look towards autocratic leaders to provide results.

The answer is undoubtedly nuanced and differs from country to country-  young people, are, of course, not a monolith.  Especially in 2024 – a year that will be defined by the most elections the world has ever seen – the governance system will be tested. It is important to note that as young people become disenchanted with formal governance institutions, the solution cannot be solely to educate or tell young people how important democracy is for the well-being and development of a country.

Rather, the most important recommendation that this report makes is that it is critical to listen to young people and enlist them in the effort to fight for democracy and against authoritarianism. There are few levers in the global toolbox that are more important in restoring and revitalizing democracy around the world than ensuring young people believe in the democratic governance system and are willing to be part of a new, more vibrant, representative, and resilient democracy.