Young South Africans are split nearly down the middle on whether they have faith in the country’s future, a survey has found.

Consumer insights company Pondering Panda found 54 percent of 18 262 young citizens felt SA would be a better place for them to live in 10 years from now, while 46 percent felt it would be worse.

The young South Africans, from all demographic groups, were interviewed in July, using cellphones.

The survey, called the Youth Hope Index, is conducted regularly, and shows young South Africans’ optimism levels have not changed in the past six months.

It found strong demographic differences in attitude.

“While 61 percent of young black respondents were optimistic, all other race groups were pessimistic on balance.”

Only 27 percent of Asians, 34 percent of whites and 44 percent of coloureds were optimistic about their future.

“There were also differences according to the ages of respondents, with pessimism increasing with age.

“Teenagers under 18 years old were most optimistic, with 58 percent of those aged 15 to 17 believing the future was positive. In contrast, only 46 percent of those aged 25 to 34 were positive,” said Pondering Panda’s Butch Rice.

The survey found males were more positive than females, with 60 percent of males feeling SA would be a better place for them to live in in 10 years’ time, compared to 48 percent of females.

Asked what their main concerns were about over the next 10 years, young people listed unemployment as the main concern (23 percent), followed by crime (19 percent).

“Again, there were strong demographic differences in the results. Among black respondents, unemployment topped their list of concerns about the future at 24 percent, while for other race groups crime was the major concern,” said Rice.

“Altogether, 30 percent of Asian respondents, and 26 percent of whites and coloureds, named crime as a concern, making it more of an issue to them than unemployment, when thinking about their future in South Africa.”

Rice said the survey’s findings were worrying as they could lead to a brain drain.

“Although the majority of our youth is optimistic about their future, this is only by a narrow margin.

“Even more concerning is that only young black South Africans are optimistic on balance. All other race groups are pessimistic.

“This would indicate we face the possibility of many of our youth planning a future elsewhere, as they do not have faith in our country’s future.”