Younger Americans appear to be the ones preparing the most for a disaster scenario ahead of 2024, with everything from global pandemics to the upcoming presidential election on their minds.
A poll from Finder.com earlier this year found that 39% of American Millennials and 40% of Gen Zers reported spending money on disaster prepping in the last 12 months. By contrast, only 29% of Americans in general spent money on emergency preparedness.
“In my work, I see younger people worried about a repeat of a COVID-type event and the types of disruption it can bring to daily life,” Southern Illinois University anthropology professor Chad Huddleston told Fox News Digital.
The coronavirus pandemic seems to have opened up a new market for the preparedness industry.
“Our people have known for a long time that when there’s an electric grid failure or a real pandemic… that people won’t go to work, there won’t be food, and they’ll starve if you don’t have preparations,” CEO of Fortitude Collapse Preparedness and Fortitude Ranch Drew Miller remarked.
McCall Risk Group firm president Patrick McCall commented, “The number of sites I think that were selling these [emergency preparedness] things or the number of places that were offering this type of stuff on the Internet was very scarce [in 2017]. Obviously, then we got into COVID, which created its own dilemmas and own kind of prepping in a different bit of craziness, as I would call it.”
Miller and McCall also suggested that the 2024 presidential election is, and will likely be, a motivating factor for both sides of the political aisle.
McCall said, “I think a lot of these people are belonging to these social media groups where, you know, they may be scrolling one day, somebody that they’re either following or somebody that’s related to somebody that they’re following said something about a disaster coming up, or they reference this election that’s coming up or some stuff that’s going on overseas. And they seem to say, well, this person went out and bought this. It’s kind of a jumping on the bandwagon-type deal.”
“I guess a lot of it is driven by the concern over [a] possible civil war next year if the election goes badly, as many people think it will,” Miller said.
Brekke Wagoner, a Millennial who runs the YouTube channel Sustainable Prepping, told Fox News Digital that this was likely a trend that will continue as national and international politics grow more chaotic.
“I think for the first time, a lot of Millennials and Gen Zers are realizing how fragile our systems are. We’ve grown up in a time in which technology has meant we’ve had grocery stores that were always stocked and you can get anything from Amazon in 24 hours. Then all of a sudden the pandemic and some uncertainties in our national and international politics has made us rethink how all of these systems are not as stable as we assumed,” Wagoner said.
Though many have associated disaster prepping with doomsday concerns or underground bunkers, experts have also noted that these reports may show less concern over preparation for an apocalypse and more for basic needs.
“I would not categorize this behavior as ‘prepping’ or ‘doomsday prepping’. The vast majority of people buying some extra toilet paper and canned goods while shopping are not preppers. Preppers take on those activities as part of their identity based in adaptive behaviors. For the most part, this is not that and, in my work, I have not seen younger people decrying the end of society or any kind of ‘civil war,'” Huddleston said.
He explained, “The impulse to gather supplies comes more from the lack of goods on store shelves during the pandemic and the realization that supply chains are fallible and fragile, rather than any idea that society is going to come to some chaotic, collapse point.”
The numbers marked a significant decrease from Finder.com’s 2021 survey on disaster preparedness, which documented purchases made during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Approximately 58% of Millennials reported buying items to prepare for a disaster while about 59% of Gen Zers reported the same. Overall, 45% of Americans said that they made some kind of emergency preparation purchase within the last year.
However, the 2023 results were noticeably higher than Finder.com’s other past surveys. In 2019, only 20% of Americans reported making a disaster-related purchase in the past year. In 2017, only 27% of Americans reported the same.