How do young adults in Mexico and Colombia feel about politics? Where do they get their information, how do they share their opinions, and what issues are most important to them?

To find out, we conducted a survey of young adults aged 18 to 35 in Mexico and Colombia in the week following their summer 2018 presidential elections. Here’s what we learned:

In both countries, young people learn about politics from people they know. In Mexico, family members and teachers contribute insights, but journalists have a strong influence, too. Young Mexicans ranked family members who are knowledgeable about politics first, followed by journalists and teachers. Colombian young people ranked teachers and friends ahead of their parents.

They keep up to date about politics through online sources and TV. Young people in both countries ranked social networks and the internet as their top 2 ways of staying informed, followed by TV. In Mexico, online and print news sources are also influential; in Colombia, school/university and online news sources play a key role.

Facebook is their main destination for expressing opinions about politics. By far, Facebook is where young people in both countries go when they have something to say about political issues (82% in Colombia, 79% in Mexico). They also share their opinions on WhatsApp (59% Colombia, 49% Mexico) and Twitter (41% in Colombia, 36% in Mexico).

Honesty is the top quality they seek in an ideal politician. Young people in both countries ranked honesty as the most important trait in an ideal politician. Being intelligent, fair and committed are also among the top 5 qualities in both countries. In Mexico, humility also came through as important, while Colombian young people place value on long-term vision.

Corruption, the economy, unemployment, and educational reform stand out as important political issues. Corruption is the top issue in Colombia (71%) and second most important in Mexico (58%). Security was number one among young Mexicans (60%), while the environment ranked second in Colombia (51%). Other key issues are economic crisis (51% in Mexico, 30% in Colombia), unemployment (40% in both countries) and educational reform (30% in Mexico, 43% in Colombia).