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TORONTO (June 10, 2003) – With Canada Day fast approaching, the second annual MasterCard® Canada Priceless Index explores the personal values of two watershed generations of Canadians: young people between the ages of 16 and 25, and the core of the Baby Boom generation, 45 to 55 year-olds. While the two groups share some common values, the research reveals fundamental differences in priorities.

The Priceless Index finds young Canadians focussed on a mix of pragmatic and personal goals. Career achievement was most often identified by 16 to 25 year-olds as their number one personal goal (22 per cent), followed by happiness (17 per cent), being a good parent (10 per cent), and wealth/being rich (nine per cent). Baby Boomers, on the other hand, were more oriented to goals related to personal fulfillment. In fact, the top four personal goals named were happiness (17 per cent), being a good parent (14 per cent), good heath/longevity (13 per cent) and being a good person/helping others (10 per cent).

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 edition of the MasterCard Canadian Priceless Index focuses on the attitudes and outlooks of Canadians between the ages of 16 and 25, and those between the ages of 45 and 55, examining what they consider priceless about Canada and their own lives.

Career important to youth; Boomers less so
Part of the survey explored attitudes to a series of possible life priorities. When asked whether they agreed “career is your highest personal priority,” half (52 per cent) of young Canadians agreed, compared to only 36 per cent of Boomers. In fact, 62 per cent of Boomers disagreed with this statement, including more than a quarter (28 per cent) that disagreed strongly.

When asked whether they were willing to “sacrifice your leisure time and time with your family to advance your career” almost half (49 per cent) of the young respondents agreed, with 16 per cent agreeing strongly. Among Boomers, only 30 per cent agreed.

“There are clearly significant differences in priority among the two age groups,” said Walt Macnee, president, MasterCard Canada. “Young people are much more engaged in their careers and are more willing to make personal sacrifices. The older generation have shifted their focus and priorities to more personal matters and are less willing to sacrifice personal life for work.”

A strong majority of both generations disagreed with the statement “the best way to measure success is by how much money a person makes.” Among young Canadians, 86 per cent disagreed including 61 per cent who disagreed strongly. Among the Boomer generation, 85 per cent disagreed with 61 per cent disagreeing strongly.

Despite this, a significant minority of both age groups agreed “being wealthy is extremely important to you.” Thirty-nine per cent of youth agreed, as did 27 per cent of Boomers.

Obligation to self or society?
Respondents were asked which of point of view was closest to their own: “your only real obligation in life is to take care of yourself and your family” or “you have an obligation to give something back to society as a whole.” A majority of both age groups selected societal responsibility, but Boomers were more pronounced in this area.

Age 16–25 Age 45–55
  • Obligation to give back to society (57%)
  • Obligation to self and family (41%)
  • Obligation to give back to society (67%)
  • Obligation to self and family (31%)

Perhaps as demonstration of these beliefs, 71 per cent of Boomers said they “do volunteer work or take part in charitable activities” compared to 59 per cent of young Canadians.

What values define us?
Respondents were asked the most important part of their own identity. The top answers selected were:

Age 16–25 Age 45–55
  • Social status (20%)
  • Age (19%) and religious beliefs (19%)
  • Ethnic origin (15%)
  • Religious beliefs (20%)
  • Political views (11%)
  • Gender (9%)
  • Religious beliefs (20%)
  • Ethnic origin (16%)
  • Social status (15%)
  • Gender (14%)
  • Political views (12%)
  • Age (11%)

When asked what “has had the biggest influence on your personal values and beliefs” half of both age groups overwhelming chose “your experiences in life” (youth 49 per cent; Boomers 50 per cent). “Parents” were the dominant second choice of 29 per cent of both groups. “Friends” were the next most frequent selection (seven per cent) among young Canadians. Boomers however, said “religion” (seven per cent) and “things you have read” (seven per cent).

Respondents were also asked to provide one word or phrase that best described their own values and beliefs system. The answers were many and varied:

Age 16–25 Age 45–55
  • Honesty (11%)
  • Christian (5%)
  • Open-minded (3%)
  • Freedom (3%)
  • Humanist (3%)
  • Nice (3%)
  • Tolerance (3%)
  • Trust/trustworthiness (3%)
  • Honesty (19%)
  • Integrity (6%)
  • Christian (6%)
  • “The Golden Rule” (5%)
  • Tolerance (4%)
  • Compassion (3%)
  • Freedom (3%)
  • Nice (3%)
  • Fairness (3%)

In response to the question of what “tells you the most about a person” both age groups put "what they believe in" (youth 66 per cent; Boomers 73 per cent) at the top of the list, followed by "the people they are friends with" (youth 20 per cent; Boomers 16 per cent). Far behind were "the kind of work they do" (youth nine per cent; Boomers five per cent), "the kind of things they own" (both groups one per cent) and "how much money they make" (both groups one per cent).

Family matters
When asked whether "being married is the key to having a happy life" 46 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 45-55 agreed, while only one third (33 per cent) of 16-25 year-olds did. In fact, more young Canadians (34 per cent) disagreed strongly with the statement. One quarter (25 per cent) of Boomers disagreed strongly.

Yet while demurring on marriage for themselves, more than half (53 per cent) of young Canadians agreed with the statement “it is very important to you that if you have children they get married and start a family.” Fewer of the older generation, 43 per cent, agreed with the statement.

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