Europeans stricken with nostalgia

Two thirds of EU citizens think life was better before. But what is "before" and who exactly are these two thirds, really? 

Daria Sukharchuk
Daria Sukharchuk NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Europeans stricken with nostalgia - NewsMavens
Old photo, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

A feeling that life in the past was better then now is understandable. After all, humans have always tended to hold on to good memories and forget unpleasantness.

Also, the daily news cycle only amplifies one's feeling of impending doom and ongoing crisis. 

Nostalgia has recently returned to politics with slogans like "Make America Great AGAIN". Therefore, it pays to understand which political ideas have benefited from this feeling.

A recent EUpinions study, called "The Power of the Past", doesn't explain the connection between the feeling that "migrants are stealing jobs" and the feeling that life in the past was better. But most respondents who longed for the past had negative attituides towards migrants. The correlation might be meaningless, but the study does show that, broadly speaking, those who long for the past tend to be farther right on the political spectrum.

Details from the story:

  • Italians, it turns out, yearn for the past the most -- at 77%, they are well above the EU average.
  • Predictably, older people are more nostalgic then younger ones -- but this division starts at 36, with people in their late thirties being in the lead, closely followed by those in their 50s and 60s. 
  • The people who think life in the past was better then now, are also more likely to disapprove of migration and believe that migrants are "stealing jobs from locals". 
  • But interestingly, both "nostalgic" and "non-nostalgic" respondents were close in their attitudes towards the EU -- both wanted it to stay strong.
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at