"You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what is it, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."
--Morpheus (The Matrix)
Emily Ekins considers the attraction of socialism to young voters (i.e., millennials). Exit polls, for example, find that supermajorities of Democratic voters under the age of 30 prefer Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. While both candidates are progressives who promote socialist policies, few would argue that Sanders conveys a more extreme statist position than Clinton.
She notes that instead of associating socialism with command-and-control states like the former Soviet Union, millennials are more prone to relate the socialism concept to Scandinavian state models--although their precise understanding of socialism and how it applies to countries like Sweden or Denmark is questionable. Nonetheless, young people do constitute the cohort by age expressing the highest preference for "bigger government providing more services" to provide for people's needs.
Does this phenomenon merely reflect the idealism of youth? As Ekins shows, previous generations have also expressed preferences for big government when they were young only to see that preference wane as the cohort aged. As they find jobs, raise families, and, of course, pay taxes, then maturing adults become less enamored with the idea of big government because they learn that the State must be funded from their own productive effort. The repeating generational pattern can be seen as reflecting a transitionary process from youthful idealism toward informed realism.
Perhaps, but I would also suggest that youthful preference for big government is not just an endogenous trait that people may be born with. In fact, they might not be born with it at all. It seems just as, if not more, plausible that preference for big government among the young is a product of environmental conditioning. For example, many young people spend 12-16 years of their impressionable lives in educational facilities that deliver instruction with a statist slant. That slant is highly likely to influence (or indoctrinate) political viewpoint in developing minds.
Age-based flip-flopping on statist preference likely involves, at least in part, unlearning falsehoods subtly placed in young heads when they were innocent and impressionable.