Are the headlines about Millennials and astrology for real? Ypulse just so happens to have stats that show the truth…
New headlines about Millennials are stirring up the idea that they have begun to devote themselves to psychics, horoscopes, and star charts en masse. MarketWatch’s recent piece, Why Millennials Are Ditching Religion For Witchcraft And Astrology, makes the case that the generation is flocking to more spiritual practices, including the occult and strong beliefs in birth signs. The article quotes the owner of a Brooklyn boutique who reports an “uptick” in interest among twentysomethings:
“Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives…For a generation that grew up in a world of big industry, environmental destruction, large and oppressive governments, and toxic social structures, all of which seem too big to change, this can be incredibly attractive.”
The popularity of an astrology app called Co-Star, and “spiritual” products like crystals and herbs are also included as proof that the belief system is seeing unprecedented acceptance. While the evidence being used is largely qualitative, MarketWatch does have some stats to back up their headline. The psychic services industry grew 2% between 2011 and 2016, and IBIS World reports that it is now worth $2 billion annually. They also claim that “more than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science”—however that becomes a little less clear cut with some digging. The data from the National Science Foundation study being cited is from 2012, when 58% of 18-24-year-olds said that astrology is very or sort of scientific—however 14% said that it is very scientific, compared to 44% who said sort of scientific. But these younger respondents were less likely than older groups to say astrology is “not scientific at all.” We should also note that being open to the idea that something is “sort of scientific” is not necessarily declaring strong belief in it.
Though the article was posted only Friday, there have already been several reaction pieces: Inc.’s Millennials Are Giving Up On God. This is What They’re Reaching For Instead, and WND’s Millennials Ditching Religion For Witchcraft, Astrology. The narrative about Millennials and more freewheeling beliefs has been percolating for some time. BuzzFeed’s in-depth look at the topic, originally titled How Astrology Took Over the Internet, reported that an influx of online astrology platforms, from Susan Miller’s popular Astrology Zone (which receives over 10 million visitors a year) to Twitter feeds like Astro Poets, have helped to boost the popularity of astrology among young people looking for less strict and restrictive belief systems—or just anything to believe in at all. So how much truth is there to the argument that Millennials are giving up religion for crystals and star charts? Ypulse happened to ask all about belief in astrology in our 2017 survey on religion and spirituality, so we know exactly how many Millennial and Gen Z consumers say they believe in astrology/horoscopes/the zodiac. Here’s what we found:
While Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say they believe in astrology and fortune telling (potentially a life stage-driven difference between the groups), only 20% of 18-34-year-olds say they believe in astrology—a fairly far cry from the “over half” who say that it’s very or sort of scientific. These stats are given even more clarity when viewed in the context of all the other things that young consumers told Ypulse they believe in:
Millennials are far more likely to say that they believe in heaven, angels, hell, and karma than to say they believe in astrology. So the headlines that young people are ditching religion in favor of witchcraft and horoscopes might be overstating things just a bit.
But that’s not to say that there hasn’t been an increase in interest in these areas. Our trend In Their Heads looked at the variety of ways that young consumers are looking to escape their stress and anxiety—from mindfulness and meditation to stress escapes online and more. Astrology and the “spiritual products” that go along with it are very possibly one of the alternative sources of stress escape they’ve been looking to. And the idea of the generation identifying as spiritual is certainly real. According to Ypulse’s religion and spirituality research, if forced to choose between describing themselves as spiritual or religious, more Millennials will say that they are spiritual. So the interest in birth signs and daily horoscope doses—especially those delivered digitally and with humor—could very well be increasing. It’s the strong belief in the practices that we’re not seeing as clearly.
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