Press release

Society Watch 2024: Generation Z’s attitudes to housing, social care, law and order

The report—Understanding the New Generation of Voters—looks at Gen Z’s attitudes to housing, social care, and law and order.
  • Publishing date:
    21 May 2024

Generation Z made up just 9% of the electorate in 2020, but are expected to make up 25% by 2030. What are the political implications of this shift? What do Gen Z think about some of the contested issues of our time?

New findings, published today as part of the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)’s annual Society Watch report, provide answers to these questions. The report—Understanding the New Generation of Voters—looks at Gen Z’s attitudes to housing, social care, and law and order. It shows that in many ways Gen Z think differently to older generations. 

What does Gen Z think about law and order?

The research shows that Gen Z hold strong moral convictions, which they are more willing to express through civil disobedience than other generations. 
The starkest difference in attitudes is in response to obeying the law. Voting age members of Gen Z are half as likely as adults overall to believe that the law should always be obeyed (16% compared to 32%), even if a particular law is wrong. In addition, while 57% of Gen Z think that always obeying the law is an important part of being a good citizen, this compares to at least 78% for all other generations.

Views on the sale of cannabis provide a useful case study of how Gen Z’s views on law and order are shaped by distinctively liberal social attitudes. Gen Z are overwhelmingly supportive of legalising the sale of cannabis; while Baby Boomers are almost split down the middle on the issue (80% compared to 52%). 

What about social care?

Gen Z are becoming an increasingly large part of the electorate at the same time as the adult social care system is facing intense and increasing pressure. But for younger generations, care at old age can feel a distant concern. What solutions could gain Gen Z’s support?

Our data indicates that Gen Z favour progressive approaches to adult social care funding.  Gen Z is the only generation where a majority (59%) want to see the government pick up the whole of the adult social care bill, with older generations putting more emphasis on the responsibility of the individual. Gen Z is more pro-welfare than other generations (42% compared to 34% of Millennials). 

What about housing? 

Gen Z faces the biggest gap of any generation between housing aspiration and reality, but the majority still want to buy. 

Putting affordability to one side, 81% of Gen Z would choose to buy a home if they could, compared to 93% of Millennials. Yet, they are pessimistic about the affordability of housing; 78% expect house prices in their area to increase further in the next ten years.

Given this, they expect to face a more extended period living with parents or in rented accommodation than generations before them. It is perhaps unsurprising then that Gen Z wants to see more support for renters and almost half (48%) wants to see new homes built in their area. 

Lovisa Moller, Director of Analysis at NatCen and co-author of Society Watch 2024 said: 
“A generational perspective helps explain how Britain is (or is not) changing. By looking at birth cohorts, we can help explain views on the relative importance of social order and individual freedom, for example. If present trends persist, Gen Z will be a generation that value personal freedoms and civil liberties more than any other current generation.

The differences discussed in this report often come down to a few percentage points. We’re interested in these, objectively quite small, differences. That’s because when it comes to politics, percentage points matter. As Gen Z are expected to make up one quarter of the electorate by 2030, it is vital to understand their views on pressing policy issues.”

For more information please contact:

Emileigh Spurdens, Communications Manager
t:020 7549 8506 e:

Notes to editors: 

  • This report includes previously unpublished data from the most recent British Social Attitudes survey (BSA). This survey uses a gold standard random probability sampling design to reduce the risk of bias and produce robust estimates of the views of British adults. A total of 5,578 interviews with a representative, random sample of adults in Britain was conducted between 12 September and 31 October 2023. The report also draws on a broad range of policy research and other data to discuss generational views on housing, adult social care, and law and order.
  •    What are the generations?

    The Greatest Generation (born 1901-1924) endured the hardship of two world wars and the Great Depression
    The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) were shaped by the post-World War II dynamics of the UK, including the reconstruction efforts and the emergence of the welfare state under the Labour government
    Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) experienced post-war economic prosperity and increased social mobility, cultural revolution, and political upheavals in the UK, including the rise of youth culture, and significant social reforms 
    Generation X (born 1965-1980) faced economic uncertainty, rapid technological advancement, and cultural shifts, including the Thatcherite policies of privatisation and deregulation, the decline of traditional industries such as coal mining, and the emergence of the internet 
    Millennials (born 1981-1996) faced the challenges of the 2008 financial crisis, witnessed the emergence of the internet and grew up during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Generation Z (born 1997-2012) are the first digital-native generation, growing up in a time of global connectivity, social media saturation, and heightened awareness of environmental and social issues 
    Generation Alpha (born 2013-2025) are the youngest generation and are yet to be defined