MasterCard Canada Press Section

Press Releases

back to press release list


Both generations optimistic about future; youth see war and terrorism as greatest future threat while Boomers list economic issues

TORONTO (June 10, 2003) – With Canada Day fast approaching, the second annual MasterCard® Canada Priceless Index survey finds that Canadian youth and Baby Boomers share a strongly positive outlook on both their own and Canada’s future. However, despite this optimism, the survey also found both generations saw many common threats to Canada’s future, with youth citing war and terrorism as their greatest concern, and Boomers listing economic issues.

The results are part of the second annual MasterCard Canada Priceless Index, a national survey conducted by Environics Research Group for MasterCard Canada. The 2003 MasterCard Canadian Priceless Index focuses on the attitudes and outlooks of young Canadians between the ages of 16 and 25, and those in the heart of the Baby Boom generation, between the ages of 45 and 55, examining what they consider priceless about Canada and their own lives.

Some key findings:

  • 74 per cent of young Canadians expect Canada to be a better place in the future; 70 per cent of Boomers felt optimistic;
  • 92 per cent of young Canadians and 88 per cent of Boomers were optimistic about their future;
  • 41 per cent of young Canadians said their outlook on their own future has become more optimistic in the last year versus 25 per cent of Boomers;
  • In 2002, 25 per cent of Priceless Index respondents cited economic issues as Canada’s biggest challenge in the future, leading the list over independence from the Unites States and fears over terrorism and war. This year, not only did the economy take the number one spot again, but the number of Canadians citing it as the number one threat to Canada’s future increased substantially to 34 per cent;
  • Maintaining independence from the U.S. is also a chief concern, remaining just behind the economy. Last year, 20 per cent cited it as their primary concern. Like the economy, that number grew significantly this year to 30 per cent;
  • This year, when comparing the generations, youth see terrorism and war (31 per cent) as the greatest threat to Canada’s future while economic issues (23 per cent) lead concern among Boomers. Both identify maintaining independence from the U.S. (28 and 22 per cent respectively) as a major challenge;
  • A large majority of both generations (90 per cent of young Canadians and 74 per cent of Boomers) believe young Canadians will enjoy an equal or higher standard of living and level of wealth than their parents;
  • Boomers (32 per cent) list the Canadian Flag as this country’s most priceless national symbol, while young Canadians (28 per cent) cherish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms above others.

“This year’s MasterCard Canadian Priceless Index clearly indicates that both young Canadians and those of the Boomer generation share a strong and growing sense of optimism about both their own future and that of Canada,” said Walt Macnee, president, MasterCard Canada. “Despite this, the Index also presents a fascinating look at the similar and myriad challenges both generations see facing Canada and Canadians.”

Canada and Canadians: A bright future, but with numerous challenges
Both young Canadians and baby boomers were overwhelmingly optimistic about both their personal future and that of the country. When asked if they felt Canada would be a better or worse place to live in the future 74 per cent of respondents 16–25 and 70 per cent of respondents 45–55 said it would be better.

When asked if they would describe their own future:

  • 48 per cent of respondents between 16 and 25 said very optimistic and 39 per cent said somewhat optimistic;
  • 44 per cent of respondents between 45 and 55 said very optimistic and 44 per cent said somewhat optimistic.

Indeed, despite continued economic challenges, the War in Iraq and SARS outbreaks, optimism, particularly among Canadian young people, grew in 2003. When asked of their outlook for the future, the responses were:

Age 16–25 Age 45–55
  • More optimistic: 41%
  • Stayed the same: 48%
  • More pessimistic: 10%
  • More optimistic: 25%
  • Stayed the same: 57%
  • More pessimistic: 17%

Both generations also said they believed strongly that Canadian youth would enjoy at least an equal, and likely, better standard of living than their parents.

When respondents 16–25 were asked if they believed they’d enjoy a higher, lower, or equal standard of living/level of wealth than their parents:

  • 45 per cent answered higher
  • 45 per cent answered equal
  • 9 per cent answered lower

When respondents 45–55 were asked if they believed their children/young Canadians would enjoy a higher, lower, or equal standard of living/level of wealth than they do,

  • 39 per cent answered higher
  • 35 per cent answered equal
  • 22 per cent answered lower

The greatest threats to Canada’s future? Youth: War and terrorism. Boomers: Economy.
However, despite this overarching sense of optimism, both generations identified a very similar list of threats to Canada’s future. When asked what they thought were Canada’s two greatest challenges for the future, the most common responses were:

Age 16–25 Age 45–55
  • War and terrorism (31%)
  • Maintaining independence from U.S. (28%)
  • Economic issues (21%)
  • Protecting the environment (16%)
  • Diseases such as SARS and
    West Nile virus (12%)
  • Economic issues (23%)
  • War and terrorism (22%)
  • Maintaining independence from U.S. (22%)
  • Protecting the environment (18%)
  • Maintaining good government (13%)

What are our most priceless national symbols?

Charter vs. the Flag
While Boomers ranked the Canadian flag as our most priceless national symbol (32 per cent), the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was the choice of young Canadians.

Notably, 20 per cent of young Canadians ranked hockey as Canada’s most priceless national symbol. This number fell to only seven per cent among Boomers.

The top three most common responses were:

Age 16–25 Age 45–55
  • The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (28%)
  • The Canadian Flag (27%)
  • Hockey (20%)
  • Medicare (11%)
  • The Canadian Flag (32%)
  • The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (30%)
  • Medicare (19%)
  • Hockey (7%)

Pierre Trudeau
When asked which Canadian best represents their personal values, both youth and the Boomer generation cited Pierre Trudeau, although Boomers selected Mr. Trudeau at almost twice the rate (30 per cent vs. 17 per cent). After that there is a clear divergence based on age, with Canadian youth looking to Jean Chretien and Wayne Gretzky and Boomers looking to politicians of the 1960s and 1970s, including Lester Pearson, John Diefenbaker and Rene Levesque.

Study methodology
The 2003 MasterCard Canada Priceless Index was conducted in two phases:

Questions benchmarking data against the 2002 MasterCard Canada Priceless Index were included on Environics Research’s Focus Canada omnibus survey. This survey of 2,012 Canadians 18 years of age and over was carried out by telephone between March 7 and 27, 2003. Results from a survey of this size can be considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 per cent, nineteen times out of twenty.

For questions comparing the two generations, Environics Research surveyed 1,000 Canadians between April 29 and May 7, 2003. The sample was divided into two sub-samples in each age cohort with 500 interviews completed among Canadians between the ages of 16 and 25 and another 500 interviews completed among Canadians between the ages of 45 and 55. The results among respondents in each age cohort can be considered accurate within plus or minus 4.1 per cent, nineteen times out of twenty.

About MasterCard International
MasterCard International has a comprehensive portfolio of well-known, widely accepted payment brands including MasterCard, Cirrus® and Maestro®. With approximately 25,000 MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro members worldwide, MasterCard serves consumers and businesses, both large and small, in 210 countries and territories. MasterCard is a leader in quality and innovation, offering a wide range of payment solutions in the virtual and traditional worlds. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless advertising campaign is now seen in 96 countries and in 45 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For the quarter ended March 31, 2003, gross dollar volume exceeded US$285.7 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its website at

Allison Morris/Tina Gladstone/Matthew Cram/Christopher Fox
Environics Communications for MasterCard Canada, 416-920-9000