This blog will be guest-starring: MATH.

After getting bombarded with polls showing young people are supposedly overwhelmingly libertarian (both in the sense of social issues and private property) I felt I should do some research. For instance, a 2011 survey found that 49% of young people had a positive view of socialism and, as one blogger pointed out (but unfortunately I can’t find), *more young people favor socialism than identify as Republicans*.

So how does this compare to the supposed “libertarian streak” among millennials? Well the results are:

- Young People Who Favor Socialism:
**49%**

- Guesstimate of Young People Who Are Libertarian:
**33.3%**

These results are not insubstantial for millennials but, like others pointed out, is probably true given young people favoring many “big” government programs.

**Here’s the part with all the wonky math you should read (but can skip if it hurts your eyes):**

First, how many young people are libertarians? Unfortunately we only have very bad indirect evidence, according to a survey of libertarians, 62% of them are under the age of 50, and a total of 22% of Americans either lean or are consistently libertarian. Likewise, we know from the census that 20-29 year olds make up exactly 13.8% of the population.

The problem is the libertarian poll includes all under 50 year olds as “young” (even though 30-49 obviously is not young) and using these metrics if we inject all the 18-49 year olds into the 18-29 sample (or take 13.6 of 13.8), it comes out to the absurd figure that 99% of young people are libertarian (which is both methodologically bad and contradicted by other finds).

My answer? Let’s just do the opposite: see how many 18-49 year olds are libertarian and apply that figure for 18-29 year olds. It’s not exactly accurate but it’s best method we have so far. We know for instance that 13.6% of the population are libertarian 18-49 year olds and that, (again from the census) 40.9% of the US population are 18-49. which means that it makes a figure of 33.3% and we’ll guesstimate that this applies for 18-29 year olds.

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