A report published by NatCen Social Research found that 69 per cent of those aged under 35 wanting to stay inside the EU, with just 25 per cent wanting to leave. Around 45 per cent of over 55s want to remain, while 46 per cent would prefer to leave.
The study also found most university graduates want to stay in the EU, while those without educational qualifications are more inclined to want to leave.
Senior research fellow at NatCen, professor john Curtice, who is leading the project to decipher public attitudes towards the EU, said: “The British public is seriously divided over Europe. The referendum is not only going to be a debate about the UK’s future relationship with the EU, but also seems set to expose a significant social division between those who feel they are likely to be winners in an international jobs market and those who do not.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017, after he has wrapped up lengthy negotiations to reform the terms of membership.
Responding to the NatCen report, Lucy Thomas from Britain Stronger in Europe said: “This report underlines what we already know, that younger voters are central to this referendum debate. Our campaign will speak directly to younger voters, many of them will be voting for the first time in this referendum.
“Younger voters, particularly students, will rightly be thinking about Britain’s place in Europe in terms of their own future prospects and prosperity. For example, the ability to travel and study in other EU countries through the Erasmus scheme is a key benefit of the UK’s EU membership.”
The report’s release coincides with the launch of a new website, What the UK Thinks: Europe, that will provide a comprehensive collection of polling data and commentary on attitudes towards Europe ahead of the forthcoming EU referendum.