The Youth Lab At Thinkhouse Unveils Its Sixth Annual Youth Culture Uncovered Report Exploring How Young People Are Feeling Today

  • 63% don’t trust in the state to actively govern in their best interests
  • 70% worried about the rising cost of living, housing and health
  • 29% say they expect brands to be ethical & responsible, conducting business fairly and sustainably

The Youth Lab, THINKHOUSE’s insights, strategy and planning division, launches the 2023 Irish edition of Youth Culture Uncovered; its sixth annual youth culture investigation exploring the hypothesis, “what’s it like to be young today?”.

The investigations (incorporating both qualitative and quantitative research) are designed to understand life through the lens of 16-35-year-olds, providing businesses and organisations with a better insight into the lives of youth audiences.

In an era of ‘permacrisis’, this year’s research explores the question - if, and how, 16-35 years are finding fun and purpose in an era of crisis conglomeration? There are three key lenses through which The Youth Lab explores the themes of fun/joy and purpose in the lives of youth today - connection, work and economics.

The research also uncovered a new cultural dynamic: checking In and Checking Out, checking into life, or checking into an issue, an interest, a passion, a hobby, work, relationships etc…or doing the polar opposite, either in conventional or expected ways or in more radical ways.


Young people are either focusing on the things they can control, things that give them personal joy or a sense of purpose while also seeing and voicing out about the injustices they see around them, and being unapologetically outspoken. Or they want to opt out by creating alternatives to the predefined structures or systems, checking out of the normative structure and saying there’s a different way. Some are choosing to check out because they simply can’t cope.


When it comes to expectations for brands, The question asked was "What are your top three expectations of brands?”. 37% say they expect brands to deliver trustworthy, quality products and services. 35% say they expect brands to be “Honest and transparent i.e. don't hide their mistakes and acknowledge them instead.” 29% say they expect brands to be “Ethical & Responsible, conducting business fairly and sustainably.” 28% say they expect brands to “Deliver value and reward loyalty with relevant deals and offers”


When it comes to the running of the country, young people do not feel represented. 62% disagree with the statement that there is “someone who looks like them and understands them in government leadership.” 63% “Don’t trust in the state to actively govern in my best interest.” While 55% agree that “Society is run by the old, for the old.”


One in two of those questioned said they feel they have no other choice but to move abroad and they don’t believe that Ireland offers them the greatest opportunity for a happy life (49%). A similar number, say they don’t believe that Ireland offers them the greatest opportunity for a successful life (53%) and again one in two agree that they have no choice but to go abroad for better opportunities (49%)


Despite the difficulties young Irish people face, most of them are committed to finding joy with 75% “Focused in on the little things that give you personal joy. 59% who have “Done something completely new or different” and 58% who have “Made an effort to be more spontaneous.”


One of the more interesting findings was around the idea of purpose and how young people were finding purpose in 2023 and that it is all largely rooted in people, with 48% saying that “one of their greatest sources of purpose in life is “Supporting my family.” 46% recognised that ‘Socialising with friends’ was important. 41% said “Travelling & adventure,” and 35% mentioned “Building my knowledge” - Working/Studying/Learning.


In terms of the social issues they are most concerned about, housing comes in at number one (70%) followed very closely by the Cost of Living Crisis (66%). With Health in 3rd place. Climate Change comes in fourth place and in some ways this isn’t surprising as people reconcile their own personal, immediate situations with bigger societal challenges.


70% have the app Tik-Tok and it’s changing how the youth of Ireland connect and discover. 21% say they use it to get “first-hand recommendations” and 20% say it is “Opening me up to try things I wouldn’t have considered before”. The importance of real friendships in youth’s lives can’t be overstated with 64% agreeing that “My friends are my chosen family, creating a supportive and safe space for me to be my authentic self.” Music festivals are a priority with 43% saying that “the people I’m with and all the new people I meet” and 42% choosing “the Line-up” as the top two ingredients for a fun festival experience. Reflecting on the role of work in young people's lives right now, 28% agree “Work is about fulfilling my passion and/or purpose”, 25% agree “Work is central to my sense of self & my success” and 41% saying that “Work is all about paying the bills in the here & now”.