Millennials, also known as Generation Y (or simply Gen Y), are the demographic cohort following Generation X and preceding Generation Z. Researchers and popular media use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years, with 1981 to 1996 a widely accepted definition. Millennials are sometimes referred to as "echo boomers" due to a major surge in birth rates in the 1980s and 1990s, and because millennials are often the children of the baby boomers. The characteristics of millennials vary by region and by individual, and the group experiences a variety of social and economic conditions, but they are generally marked by their coming of age in the Information Age, and are comfortable in their usage of digital technologies and social media.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Date and age range definitions
- 3 General discussion
- 4 Cultural identity
- 5 Demographics in the United States
- 6 Economic prospects and trends
- 7 Education
- 8 Historical knowledge
- 9 Political views
- 10 Preferred modes of transportation
- 11 Religious beliefs
- 12 Social tendencies
- 13 Sports and fitness
- 14 Workplace attitudes
- 15 Use of digital technology
- 16 Offspring
- 17 See also
- 18 References
- 19 Further reading
- 20 External links
It is so named, because the earliest of the millennials became an adult around the turn of the millennium.
Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe are widely credited with naming the millennials. They coined the term in 1987, around the time children born in 1982 were entering kindergarten, and the media were first identifying their prospective link to the impending new millennium as the high school graduating class of 2000. They wrote about the cohort in their books Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 (1991) and Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (2000).
In August 1993, an Advertising Age editorial coined the phrase Generation Y to describe those who were aged 11 or younger as well as the teenagers of the upcoming ten years who were defined as different from Generation X. According to journalist Bruce Horovitz, in 2012, Ad Age "threw in the towel by conceding that millennials is a better name than Gen Y", and by 2014, a past director of data strategy at Ad Age said to NPR "the Generation Y label was a placeholder until we found out more about them". Millennials are sometimes called Echo Boomers, due to their being the offspring of the baby boomers and due to the significant increase in birth rates from the early 1980s to mid 1990s, mirroring that of their parents. In the United States, birth rates peaked in August 1990 and a 20th-century trend toward smaller families in developed countries continued. In his book The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom, author Elwood Carlson called this cohort the "New Boomers".
Psychologist Jean Twenge described millennials as "Generation Me" in her 2006 book Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before, which was updated in 2014. In 2013, Time magazine ran a cover story titled Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation. Newsweek used the term Generation 9/11 to refer to young people who were between the ages of 10 and 20 during the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. The first reference to "Generation 9/11" was made in the cover story of the 12 November 2001 issue of Newsweek. Alternative names for this group proposed include the Net Generation and The Burnout Generation.
American sociologist Kathleen Shaputis labeled millennials as the Boomerang Generation or Peter Pan generation because of the members' perceived tendency for delaying some rites of passage into adulthood for longer periods than most generations before them. These labels were also a reference to a trend toward members living with their parents for longer periods than previous generations. Kimberly Palmer regards the high cost of housing and higher education, and the relative affluence of older generations, as among the factors driving the trend. Questions regarding a clear definition of what it means to be an adult also impact a debate about delayed transitions into adulthood and the emergence of a new life stage, Emerging Adulthood. A 2012 study by professors at Brigham Young University found that college students were more likely to define "adult" based on certain personal abilities and characteristics rather than more traditional "rite of passage" events. Larry Nelson noted that "In prior generations, you get married and you start a career and you do that immediately. What young people today are seeing is that approach has led to divorces, to people unhappy with their careers … The majority want to get married […] they just want to do it right the first time, the same thing with their careers."
Chinese millennials are commonly called the 1980s and 1990s generations. At a 2015 conference in Shanghai organized by University of Southern California's US-China Institute, millennials in China were examined and contrasted with American millennials. Findings included millennials' marriage, childbearing, and child raising preferences, life and career ambitions, and attitudes towards volunteerism and activism.
Date and age range definitions
Oxford Living Dictionaries describes a millennial as "a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century." Jonathan Rauch, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote for The Economist in 2018 that "generations are squishy concepts", but the 1981 to 1996 birth cohort is a "widely accepted" definition for millennials. Reuters also states that millennials are "widely accepted as having been born between 1981 and 1996."
The Pew Research Center defines millennials as born from 1981 to 1996, choosing these dates for "key political, economic and social factors", including the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Great Recession, and the Internet explosion. Many major media outlets have cited Pew's definition including Time magazine, BBC, The Washington Post, Business Insider, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics also uses Pew's birth years. Pew Research Center has observed that "[b]ecause generations are analytical constructs, it takes time for popular and expert consensus to develop as to the precise boundaries that demarcate one generation from another" and has indicated that they would remain open to date recalibration. According to this definition, the oldest millennial is 38 years old and the youngest is, or is turning, 23 years old in 2019.
The Federal Reserve Board defines millennials as "members of the generation born between 1981 and 1996", as does the American Psychological Association and Ernst and Young. The birth years of 1981 to 1996 have also been used to define millennials by PBS, CBS, ABC Australia, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and The Los Angeles Times.
Gallup Inc., MSW Research, the Resolution Foundation use 1980–1996, PricewaterhouseCoopers has used 1981 to 1995, and Nielsen Media Research has defined millennials as between 21 and 37 years old in 2018. The United States Chamber of Commerce, a business-oriented lobbying group, uses 1980–1999. In 2014, U.S PIRG described millennials as those born between 1983 and 2000. The United States Census Bureau used the birth years 1982 to 2000 in a 2015 news release to describe millennials, but they have stated that "there is no official start and end date for when millennials were born" and they do not define millennials.
In his 2008 book The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom, author Elwood Carlson used the term "New Boomers" to describe this cohort. He identified the birth years of 1983–2001, based on the upswing in births after 1983 and finishing with the "political and social challenges" that occurred after the September 11th terrorist acts. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe define millennials as born between 1982–2004. However, Howe described the dividing line between millennials and the following Generation Z as "tentative", saying "you can’t be sure where history will someday draw a cohort dividing line until a generation fully comes of age".
Individuals born in the Generation X and millennial cusp years of the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s have been identified as a "microgeneration" with characteristics of both generations. Names given to these "cuspers" include Xennials, Generation Catalano, and the Oregon Trail Generation.
Psychologist Jean Twenge, the author of the 2006 book Generation Me, considers millennials, along with younger members of Generation X, to be part of what she calls "Generation Me". Twenge attributes millennials with the traits of confidence and tolerance, but also describes a sense of entitlement and narcissism, based on "Narcissistic Personality Inventory" surveys showing increased narcissism among millennials[quantify] compared to preceding generations when they were teens and in their twenties. Psychologist Jeffrey Arnett of Clark University, Worcester has criticized Twenge's research on narcissism among millennials, stating "I think she is vastly misinterpreting or over-interpreting the data, and I think it’s destructive". He doubts that the Narcissistic Personality Inventory really measures narcissism at all. Arnett says that not only are millennials less narcissistic, they're “an exceptionally generous generation that holds great promise for improving the world”. A study published in 2017 in the journal Psychological Science found a small decline in narcissism among young people since the 1990s.
Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe argue that each generation has common characteristics that give it a specific character with four basic generational archetypes, repeating in a cycle. According to their hypothesis, they predicted millennials would become more like the "civic-minded" G.I. Generation with a strong sense of community both local and global. Strauss and Howe ascribe seven basic traits to the millennial cohort: special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving. However, Arthur E. Levine, author of When Hope and Fear Collide: A Portrait of Today's College Student, dismissed these generational images as "stereotypes". In addition, psychologist Jean Twenge says Strauss and Howe's assertions are overly-deterministic, non-falsifiable, and unsupported by rigorous evidence.
Since the 2000 U.S. Census, millennials have taken advantage of the possibility of selecting more than one racial group in abundance. In 2015, the Pew Research Center also conducted research regarding generational identity that said a majority did not like the "Millennial" label. In 2015, the Pew Research Center conducted research regarding generational identity. It was discovered that millennials are less likely to strongly identify with the generational term when compared to Generation X or the Baby Boomers, with only 40% of those born between 1981 and 1997 identifying as part of the Millennial Generation. Among older millennials, those born 1981–1988, Pew Research found 43% personally identified as members of the older demographic cohort, Generation X, while only 35% identified as millennials. Among younger millennials (born 1989–1997), generational identity was not much stronger, with only 45% personally identifying as millennials. It was also found that millennials chose most often to define themselves with more negative terms such as self-absorbed, wasteful or greedy. In this 2015 report, Pew defined millennials with birth years ranging from 1981 onwards.
Elza Venter, an educational psychologist and lecturer at Unisa, South Africa, in the Department of Psychology of Education, believes Millennials are digital natives because they have grown up experiencing digital technology and have known it all their lives. Prensky coined the concept ‘digital natives’ because the members of the generation are ‘native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games and the internet’. This generation's older members use a combination of face-to-face communication and computer mediated communication, while its younger members use mainly electronic and digital technologies for interpersonal communication.
Fred Bonner, a Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education at Rutgers University and author of Diverse Millennial Students in College: Implications for Faculty and Student Affairs, believes that much of the commentary on the Millennial Generation may be partially correct, but overly general and that many of the traits they describe apply primarily to "white, affluent teenagers who accomplish great things as they grow up in the suburbs, who confront anxiety when applying to super-selective colleges, and who multitask with ease as their helicopter parents hover reassuringly above them." During class discussions, Bonner listened to black and Hispanic students describe how some or all of the so-called core traits did not apply to them. They often said that the "special" trait, in particular, is unrecognizable. Other socioeconomic groups often do not display the same attributes commonly attributed to millennials. "It's not that many diverse parents don't want to treat their kids as special," he says, "but they often don't have the social and cultural capital, the time and resources, to do that."
A 2013 survey of almost a thousand Britons aged 18 to 24 found that 62% had a favorable opinion of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and 70% felt proud of their national history.
The University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future" study of high school seniors (conducted continually since 1975) and the American Freshman Survey, conducted by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute of new college students since 1966, showed an increase in the proportion of students who consider wealth a very important attribute, from 45% for Baby Boomers (surveyed between 1967 and 1985) to 70% for Gen Xers, and 75% for millennials. The percentage who said it was important to keep abreast of political affairs fell, from 50% for Baby Boomers to 39% for Gen Xers, and 35% for millennials. The notion of "developing a meaningful philosophy of life" decreased the most across generations, from 73% for Boomers to 45% for millennials. The willingness to be involved in an environmental cleanup program dropped from 33% for Baby Boomers to 21% for millennials.
Millennials came of age in a time where the entertainment industry began to be affected by the Internet. Using artificial intelligence, Joan Serra and his team at the Spanish National Research Council studied the massive Million Song Dataset and found that between 1955 and 2010, popular music has gotten louder, while the chords, melodies, and types of sounds used have become increasingly homogenized. While the music industry has long been accused of producing songs that are louder and blander, this is the first time the quality of songs is comprehensively studied and measured.
By the late 2010s, viewership of late-night American television among adults aged 18 to 49, the most important demographic group for advertisers, has fallen substantially despite an abundance of materials. This is due in part to the availability and popularity of streaming services. However, when delayed viewing within three days is taken into account, the top shows all saw their viewership numbers boosted. This development undermines the current business model of the television entertainment industry. "If the sky isn't exactly falling on the broadcast TV advertising model, it certainly seems to be a lot closer to the ground than it once was," wrote reporter Anthony Crupi for Ad Age.
Demographics in the United States
The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. The Pew Research Center has projected that by 2019 millennials will surpass Baby Boomers to become the largest living generation in the United States. By analyzing U.S Census data they found that in 2016 there were an estimated 71 million millennials, based on Pew's definition of the generation which ranges from 1981 to 1996, compared to 74.1 million Baby Boomers.
Millennial population size varies, depending on the definition used. In 2014, using dates ranging from 1982 to 2004, Neil Howe revised the number to over 95 million people in the U.S. In a 2012 Time magazine article, it was estimated that there were approximately 80 million U.S. millennials. The United States Census Bureau, using birth dates ranging from 1982 to 2000, stated the estimated number of U.S. millennials in 2015 was 83.1 million people.
According to the Pew Research Center, "Among men, only 4% of millennials [ages 21 to 36 in 2017] are veterans, compared with 47%" of men in their 70s and 80s, "many of whom came of age during the Korean War and its aftermath." Some of these veterans, are combat veterans, having fought in Afghanistan and/or Iraq. As of 2016[update], millennials are the majority of the total veteran population. According to the Pentagon in 2016, 19% of Millennials are interested in serving in the military, and 15% have a parent with a history of military service.
In 2017, fewer than 56% Millennial were non-Hispanic whites, compared with more than 84% of Americans in their 70s and 80s, 57% had never been married, and 67% lived in a metropolitan area. According to the Brookings Institute, millennials are the “demographic bridge between the largely white older generations (pre-millennials) and much more racially diverse younger generations (post-millennials).”
Economic prospects and trends
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 200 million people were unemployed in 2015. Of these, 73.3 million were 15 and 24 years of age. (That's 36.7%) Between 2009 and 2015, youth unemployment increased considerably in the North Africa and the Middle East, and slightly in East Asia. During the same period, it fell noticeably in Europe (both within and without the E.U.), and the rest of the developed world, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, but remained steady in South Asia. The ILO estimated that some 475 million jobs will need to be created worldwide by the mid-2020s in order to appreciably reduce the number of unemployed youths.
In 2018, as the number of robots at work continued to increase, the global unemployment rate fell to 5.2%, the lowest in 38 years. Current trends suggest that developments in artificial intelligence and robotics will not result in mass unemployment but can actually create high-skilled jobs. However, in order to take advantage of this situation, one needs to hone skills that machines have not yet mastered, such as teamwork and effective communication.
By analyzing data from the United Nations and the Global Talent Competitive Index, KDM Engineering found that as of 2019, the top five countries for international high-skilled workers are Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Sweden. Factors taken into account included the ability to attract high-skilled foreign workers, business-friendliness, regulatory environment, the quality of education, and the standard of living. Switzerland is best at retaining talents due to its excellent quality of life. Singapore is home to a world-class environment for entrepreneurs. And the United States offers the most opportunity for growth due to the sheer size of its economy and the quality of higher education and training. As of 2019, these are also some of the world's most competitive economies, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). In order to determine a country or territory's economic competitiveness, the WEF considers factors such as the trustworthiness of public institutions, the quality of infrastructure, macro-economic stability, the quality of healthcare, business dynamism, labor market efficiency, and innovation capacity.
Statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveal that between 2014 and 2019, Japan's unemployment rate went from about 4% to 2.4% and China's from almost 4.5% to 3.8%. These are some of the lowest rates among the largest economies of the world.
Economic prospects for some millennials have declined largely due to the Great Recession in the late 2000s. Several governments have instituted major youth employment schemes out of fear of social unrest due to the dramatically increased rates of youth unemployment. In Europe, youth unemployment levels were very high (56% in Spain, 44% in Italy, 35% in the Baltic states, 19% in Britain and more than 20% in many more countries). In 2009, leading commentators began to worry about the long-term social and economic effects of the unemployment.
A variety of names have emerged in various European countries hard hit following the financial crisis of 2007–2008 to designate young people with limited employment and career prospects. These groups can be considered to be more or less synonymous with millennials, or at least major sub-groups in those countries. The Generation of €700 is a term popularized by the Greek mass media and refers to educated Greek twixters of urban centers who generally fail to establish a career. In Greece, young adults are being "excluded from the labor market" and some "leave their country of origin to look for better options". They're being "marginalized and face uncertain working conditions" in jobs that are unrelated to their educational background, and receive the minimum allowable base salary of €700 per month. This generation evolved in circumstances leading to the Greek debt crisis and some participated in the 2010–2011 Greek protests. In Spain, they're referred to as the mileurista (for €1,000 per month), in France "The Precarious Generation," and as in Spain, Italy also has the "milleurista"; generation of 1,000 euros (per month).
In 2016, research from the Resolution Foundation found millennials in the UK earned £8,000 less in their 20s than Generation X, describing millennials as "on course to become the first generation to earn less than the one before".
Millennials are the most highly educated and culturally diverse group of all generations, and have been regarded as hard to please when it comes to employers. To address these new challenges, many large firms are currently studying the social and behavioral patterns of millennials and are trying to devise programs that decrease intergenerational estrangement, and increase relationships of reciprocal understanding between older employees and millennials. The UK's Institute of Leadership & Management researched the gap in understanding between millennial recruits and their managers in collaboration with Ashridge Business School. The findings included high expectations for advancement, salary and for a coaching relationship with their manager, and suggested that organizations will need to adapt to accommodate and make the best use of millennials. In an example of a company trying to do just this, Goldman Sachs conducted training programs that used actors to portray millennials who assertively sought more feedback, responsibility, and involvement in decision making. After the performance, employees discussed and debated the generational differences they saw played out. In 2014, millennials were entering an increasingly multi-generational workplace. Even though research has shown that millennials are joining the workforce during a tough economic time, they still have remained optimistic, as shown when about nine out of ten millennials surveyed by the Pew Research Center said that they currently have enough money or that they will eventually reach their long-term financial goals.
Statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveal that between 2014 and 2019, unemployment rates fell in most of the world's major economies, many of which in Europe. Although the unemployment rates of France and Italy remained relatively high, they were markedly lower than previously. Meanwhile, the German unemployment rate dipped below even that of the United States, a level not seen since its unification almost three decades prior. Eurostat reported in 2019 that overall unemployment rate across the European Union dropped to its lowest level since January 2000, at 6.2% in August, meaning about 15.4 million people were out of a job. The Czech Republic (3%), Germany (3.1%) and Malta (3.3%) enjoyed the lowest levels of unemployment. Member states with the highest unemployment rates were Italy (9.5%), Spain (13.8%), and Greece (17%). Countries with higher unemployment rates compared to 2018 were Denmark (from 4.9% to 5%), Lithuania (6.1% to 6.6%), and Sweden (6.3% to 7.1%).
According to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), the European Union in the late 2010s suffers from shortages of STEM specialists (including ICT professionals), medical doctors, nurses, midwives and schoolteachers. However, the picture varies depending on the country. In Italy, environmentally friendly architecture is in high demand. Estonia and France are running short of legal professionals. Ireland, Luxembourg, Hungary, and the United Kingdom need more financial experts. All member states except Finland need more ICT specialists, and all but Belgium, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal and the United Kingdom need more teachers. The supply of STEM graduates has been insufficient because the dropout rate is high and because of an ongoing brain drain from some countries. Some countries need more teachers because many are retiring and need to be replaced. At the same time, Europe's aging population necessitates the expansion of the healthcare sector. Disincentives for (potential) workers in jobs in high demand include low social prestige, low salaries, and stressful work environments. Indeed, many have left the public sector for industry while some STEM graduates have taken non-STEM jobs.
Even though pundits predicted that the uncertainty due to the Brexit referendum would cause the British economy to falter or even fall into a recession, the unemployment rate has dipped below 4% while real wages have risen slightly in the late 2010s, two percent as of 2019. In particular, medical doctors and dentists saw their earnings bumped above the inflation rate in July 2019. Despite the fact that the government promised to an increase in public spending (£13 billion, or 0.6% of GDP) in September 2019, public deficit continues to decline, as it has since 2010. Nevertheless, uncertainty surrounding Britain's international trade policy suppressed the chances of an export boom despite the depreciation of the pound sterling. According to the Office for National Statistics, the median income of the United Kingdom in 2018 was £29,588.
In North America
In Canada, the youth unemployment rate in July 2009 was 16%, the highest in 11 years. Between 2014 and 2019, Canada's overall unemployment rate fell from about 7% to below 6%. However, a 2018 survey by accounting and advisory firm BDO Canada found that 34% of millennials felt "overwhelmed" by their non-mortgage debt. For comparison, this number was 26% for Generation X and 13% for the Baby Boomers. Canada's average non-mortgage debt was CAN$20,000 in 2018. About one in five millennials were delaying having children because of financial worries. Despite expensive housing costs, Canada's largest cities, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, continue to attract millennials thanks to their economic opportunities and cultural amenities. Research by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) revealed that for every person in the 20-34 age group who leaves the nation's top cities, Toronto gains seven while Vancouver and Montreal gain up to a dozen each. In fact, there has been a surge in the millennial populations of Canada's top three cities between 2015 and 2018. However, millennials' rate of home ownership will likely drop as increasing numbers choose to rent instead. An average Canadian home was worth CAN$484,500 in 2018. Despite government legislation (mortgage stress test rules), such a price was quite high compared to some decades before. Adjusted for inflation, it was CAN$210,000 in 1976. Paul Kershaw of the University of British Columbia calculated that the average amount of extra money needed for a down payment in the late 2010s compared to one generation before was equivalent to eating 17 avocado toasts each day for ten years. Meanwhile, the option of renting in a large city is increasingly out of reach for many young Canadians. In 2017, the average rent in Canada cost $947 a month, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). But, as is always the case in real-estate, location matters. An average two-bedroom apartment cost CAN$1,552 per month in Vancouver and CAN$1,404 per month in Toronto, with vacancy rates at about one percent. Canada's national vacancy rate was 2.4% in 2018, the lowest since 2009. New supply – rental apartment complexes that are newly completed or under construction – has not been able to keep up with rising demand. Besides higher prices, higher interest rates and stricter mortgage rules have made home ownership more difficult. International migration contributes to rising demand for housing, especially rental apartments, according to the CMHC, as new arrivals tend to rent rather than purchase. Moreover, a slight decline in youth unemployment in 2018 also drove up demand. While the Canadian housing market is growing, this growth is detrimental to the financial well-being of young Canadians.
In 2019, Canada's net public debt was CAN$768 billion. Meanwhile, U.S. public debt amounted to US$22 trillion. The Canadian federal government's official figure for the debt-to-GDP ratio was 30.9%. However, this figure left out debts from lower levels of government. Once these were taken into account, the figure jumped to 88%, according to the International Monetary Fund. For comparison, that number was 237.5% for Japan, 106.7% for the United States, and 99.2% for France. Canada's public debt per person was over CAN$18,000. For Americans, it was US$69,000. Since the Great Recession, Canadian households have accumulated significantly more debt. According to Statistics Canada, the national debt-to-disposable income ratio was 175% in 2019. It was 105% in the U.S. Meanwhile, the national median mortgage debt rose from CAN$95,400 in 1999 to CAN$190,000 in 2016 (in 2016 dollars). Numbers are much higher in the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver, and Victoria, B.C.
A 2018 survey by Abacus Data of 4,000 Canadian millennials found that 80% identified to be members of the middle class, 55% had pharmaceutical insurance, 53% dental insurance, 36% a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), and 29% an employer-sponsored pension plan.
The youth unemployment rate in the U.S. reached a record 19% in July 2010 since the statistic started being gathered in 1948. Underemployment is also a major factor. In the U.S. the economic difficulties have led to dramatic increases in youth poverty, unemployment, and the numbers of young people living with their parents. In April 2012, it was reported that half of all new college graduates in the US were still either unemployed or underemployed. It has been argued that this unemployment rate and poor economic situation has given millennials a rallying call with the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement. However, according to Christine Kelly, Occupy is not a youth movement and has participants that vary from the very young to very old.
Millennials have benefited the least from the economic recovery following the Great Recession, as average incomes for this generation have fallen at twice the general adult population's total drop and are likely to be on a path toward lower incomes for at least another decade. According to a Bloomberg L.P., "Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, the earnings and employment gap between those in the under-35 population and their parents and grandparents threatens to unravel the American dream of each generation doing better than the last. The nation's younger workers have benefited least from an economic recovery that has been the most uneven in recent history." In 2015, millennials in New York City were reported as earning 20% less than the generation before them, as a result of entering the workforce during the great recession. Despite higher college attendance rates than Generation X, many were stuck in low-paid jobs, with the percentage of degree-educated young adults working in low-wage industries rising from 23% to 33% between 2000 and 2014.
According to a 2019 TD Ameritrade survey of 1,015 U.S. adults aged 23 and older with at least US$10,000 in investable assets, two thirds of people aged 23 to 38 (Millennials) felt they were not saving enough for retirement, and the top reason why was expensive housing (37%). This was especially true for Millennials with families. 21% said student debt prevented them from saving for the future. For comparison, this number was 12% for Generation X and 5% for the Baby Boomers. While millennials are well known for taking out large amounts of student loans, these are actually not their main source of non-mortgage personal debt, but rather credit card debt. According to a 2019 Harris poll, the average non-mortgage personal debt of millennials was US$27,900, of which, 25% was credit card debt. For comparison, mortgages were the top source of debt for the Baby Boomers and Generation X (28% and 30%, respectively) and student loans for Generation Z (20%).
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in September 2019 was 3.5%, a number not seen since December 1969. For comparison, unemployment attained a maximum of 10% after the Great Recession in October 2009. At the same time, labor participation remained steady and most job growth tended to be full-time positions. Economists generally consider a population with an unemployment rate lower than 4% to be fully employed. In fact, even people with disabilities or prison records are getting hired. Between June 2018 and June 2019, the U.S. economy added a minimum of 56,000 jobs (February 2019) and a maximum of 312,000 jobs (January 2019). The average monthly job gain between the same period was about 213,600. Tony Bedikian, managing director and head of global markets at Citizens Bank, said this is the longest period of economic expansion on record. At the same time, wages continue to grow, especially for low-income earners. On average, they grew by 2.7% in 2016 and 3.3% in 2018. However, the Pew Research Center found that the average wage in the U.S. in 2018 remained more or less the same as it was in 1978, when the seasons and inflation are taken into consideration. Real wages grew only for the top 90th percentile of earners and to a lesser extent the 75th percentile (in 2018 dollars). Nevertheless, these developments ease fears of an upcoming recession. Moreover, economists believe that job growth could slow to an average of just 100,000 per month and still be sufficient to keep up with population growth and keep economic recovery going. As long as firms keep hiring and wages keep growing, consumer spending should prevent another recession. Millennials are expected to make up approximately half of the U.S. workforce by 2020.
Human capital is the engine of economic growth. With this in mind, urban researcher Richard Florida and his collaborators analyzed data from the U.S. Census from between 2012 and 2017 and found that the ten cities with the largest shares of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher are Seattle (62.6%), San Francisco, the District of Columbia, Raleigh, Austin, Minneapolis, Portland, Denver, Atlanta, and Boston (48.2%). More specifically, the ten cities with the largest shares of people with graduate degrees are the District of Columbia (33.4%), Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Portland, Denver, Austin, and San Diego (18.5%). These are the leading information technology hubs of the United States. Cities with the lowest shares of college graduates tend to be from the Rust Belt, such as Detroit, Memphis, and Milwaukee, and the Sun Belt, such as Las Vegas, Fresno, and El Paso. Meanwhile, the ten cities with the fastest growth in the shares of college-educated adults are Miami (46.3%), Austin, Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Denver, Charlotte, Boston, Mesa, Nashville, and Seattle (25.1%). More specifically, those with the fastest growing shares of adults with graduate degrees are Miami (47.1%), Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Jose, Omaha, Seattle, Fresno, Indianapolis, and Sacramento (32.0%).
Florida and his team also found, using U.S. Census data between 2005 and 2017, an increase in employment across the board for members of the "creative class" – people in education, healthcare, law, the arts, technology, science, and business, not all of whom have a university degree – in virtually all U.S. metropolitan areas with a population of a million or more. Indeed, the total number of the creative class grew from 44 million in 2005 to over 56 million in 2017. Florida suggested that this could be a "tipping point" in which talents head to places with a high quality of life yet lower costs of living than well-established creative centers, such as New York City and Los Angeles, what he called the "superstar cities."
Indeed, by analyzing U.S. Census data, demographer William H. Frey at the Brookings Institution found that, following the Great Recession, American suburbs grew faster than dense urban cores. For example, for every one person who moved to New York City, five moved out to one of its suburbs. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 revealed that Americans aged 25–29 were 25% more likely to move from a city to a suburb than the other way around; for older millennials, that number was 50%. Economic recovery and easily obtained mortgages help explain this phenomenon. Millennial homeowners are more likely to be in the suburbs than the cities. This trend will likely continue as more and more millennials purchase a home. 2019 was the fourth year in a row where the number of millennials living in the major American cities declined measurably. Previously, millennials were responsible for the so-called "back-to-the-city" trend. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Americans living in urban areas grew from 79% to 80.7% while that in rural areas dropped from 21% to 19.3%. At the same time, many new cities were born, especially in the Midwest, and others, such as Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas, were growing enormously. Mini-apartments, initially found mainly in Manhattan, became more and more common in other major urban areas as a strategy for dealing with high population density and high demand for housing, especially among people living alone. The number of single-person households in the U.S. reached 27% in 2010 from 8% in 1940 and 18% in 1970; in places such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, Denver, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C, it can even exceed 40%, according to Census data. The size of a typical mini-apartment is 300 square feet (28 square meters), or roughly the size of a standard garage and one eighth the size of an average single-family home in the U.S. as of 2013. Many young city residents were willing to give up space in exchange for living in a location they liked. Such apartments are also common in Tokyo and some European capitals.
But by the late 2010s, while 14% of the U.S. population relocate at least once each year, Americans in their 20s and 30s are more likely to move than retirees, according to Frey. Besides the cost of living, including housing costs, people are leaving the big cities in search of warmer climates, lower taxes, better economic opportunities, and better school districts for their children. Places in the South and Southwestern United States are especially popular. In some communities, millennials and their children are moving in so quickly that schools and roads are becoming overcrowded. This rising demand pushes prices upwards, making affordable housing options less plentiful. Historically, between the 1950s and 1980s, Americans left the cities for the suburbs because of crime. Suburban growth slowed because of the Great Recession but picked up pace afterwards. According to the Brookings Institution, overall, American cities with the largest net losses in their millennial populations were New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, while those with the top net gains were Houston, Denver, and Dallas. According to Census data, Los Angeles County in particular lost 98,608 people in 2018, the single biggest loss in the nation. Moving trucks (U-Haul) are in extremely high demand in the area.
High taxes and high cost of living are also reasons why people are leaving entire states behind. As is the case with cities, young people are the most likely to relocate. For example, a 2019 poll by Edelman Intelligence of 1,900 residents of California found that 63% of millennials said they were thinking about leaving the Golden State and 55% said they wanted to do so within five years. 60% of millennials said the reason why they wanted to move as the cost and availability of housing. In 2018, the median home price in California was US$547,400, about twice the national median. California also has the highest marginal income tax rate of all U.S. states, 12.3%, plus a subcharge of 1% for those earning a million dollars a year or more. Popular destinations include Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas, according to California's Legislative Analyst's Office. By analyzing data provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), finance company SmartAsset found that for wealthy millennials, defined as those no older than 35 years of age earning at least US$100,000 per annum, the top states of departure were New York, Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, while the top states of destination were California, Washington State, Texas, Colorado, and Florida.
Economist Tim Wojan and his colleagues at the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture analyzed 11,000 businesses using data collected in 2014 and classified them into three groups: substantive innovators, nominal innovators, and non-innovators. They found that 20% of the establishments hailed from rural areas compared to 30% from urban areas. In addition, large innovative firms were more likely to be found in rural areas while small and medium firms tended to come from the metropolitan areas. This is because large patent-intensive manufacturing firms – such as those manufacturing chemicals, electronic components, automotive parts, or medical equipment – were generally based in rural areas while those that provide services tend to cluster in the cities. Nevertheless, rural creative centers tend to be relatively close to large urban centers. The National Endowment for the Arts reported in 2017 that a rural county's probability of having a performing arts organization increased by 60% if it is located near a forest or a national park. Richard Florida concluded that there is no compelling reason to believe that rural America is not as innovative as urban America. Nevertheless, despite the availability of affordable housing, and broadband Internet, and the possibility of telecommuting, millennials have been steadily leaving rural counties for urban areas for lifestyle and economic reasons.
According to the Department of Education, people with technical or vocational trainings are slightly more likely to be employed than those with a bachelor's degree and significantly more likely to be employed in their fields of specialty. The United States currently suffers from a shortage of skilled tradespeople. As of 2019, the most recent data from the U.S. government reveals that there are over half a million vacant manufacturing jobs in the country, a record high, thanks to an increasing number of Baby Boomers entering retirement. But in order to attract new workers to overcome this "Silver Tsunami," manufacturers need to debunk a number of misconceptions about their industries. For example, the American public tends to underestimate the salaries of manufacturing workers. Nevertheless, the number of people doubting the viability of American manufacturing has declined to 54% in 2019 from 70% in 2018, the L2L Manufacturing Index measured. After the Great Recession, the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs reached a minimum of 11.5 million in February 2010. It rose to 12.8 million in September 2019. It was 14 million in March 2007. As of 2019, manufacturing industries made up 12% of the U.S. economy, which is increasingly reliant on service industries, as is the case for other advanced economies around the world. Nevertheless, twenty-first-century manufacturing is increasingly sophisticated, using advanced robotics, 3D printing, cloud computing, among other modern technologies, and technologically savvy employees are precisely what employers need. Four-year university degrees are unnecessary; technical or vocational training, or perhaps apprenticeships would do.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupations with the highest median annual pay in the United States in 2018 included medical doctors (especially psychiatrists, anesthesiologists, obstetricians and gynecologists, surgeons, and orthodontists), chief executives, dentists, information system managers, chief architects and engineers, pilots and flight engineers, petroleum engineers, and marketing managers. Their median annual pay ranged from about US$134,000 (marketing managers) to over US$208,000 (aforementioned medical specialties). Meanwhile, the occupations with the fastest projected growth rate between 2018 and 2028 are solar cell and wind turbine technicians, healthcare and medical aides, cyber security experts, statisticians, speech-language pathologists, genetic counselors, mathematicians, operations research analysts, software engineers, forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists, post-secondary health instructors, and phlebotomists. Their projected growth rates are between 23% (medical assistants) and 63% (solar cell installers); their annual median pays range between roughly US$24,000 (personal care aides) to over US$108,000 (physician assistants). Occupations with the highest projected numbers of jobs added between 2018 and 2028 are healthcare and personal aides, nurses, restaurant workers (including cooks and waiters), software developers, janitors and cleaners, medical assistants, construction workers, freight laborers, marketing researchers and analysts, management analysts, landscapers and groundskeepers, financial managers, tractor and truck drivers, and medical secretaries. The total numbers of jobs added ranges from 881,000 (personal care aides) to 96,400 (medical secretaries). Annual median pays range from over US$24,000 (fast-food workers) to about US$128,000 (financial managers).
Despite economic recovery and despite being more likely to have a bachelor's degree or higher, millennials are at a financial disadvantage compared to the Baby Boomers and Generation X because of the Great Recession and expensive higher education. Income has become less predictable due to the rise of short-term and freelance positions. According to a 2019 report from the non-partisan non-profit think tank New America, a household headed by a person under 35 in 2016 had an average net worth of almost US$11,000, compared to US$20,000 in 1995. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, an average millennial (20 to 35 in 2016) owned US$162,000 of assets, compared to US$198,000 for Generation X at the same age (20 to 35 in 2001). Risk management specialist and business economist Olivia S. Mitchell of the University of Pennsylvania calculated that in order to retire at 50% of their last salary before retirement, millennials will have to save 40% of their incomes for 30 years. She told CNBC, "Benefits from Social Security are 76% higher if you claim at age 70 versus 62, which can substitute for a lot of extra savings." Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – avoiding smoking, over-drinking, and sleep deprivation – should prove beneficial.
For information on public support for higher education (for domestic students) in the OECD in 2011, see chart below.
In continental Europe
In Sweden, universities are tuition-free, as is the case in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland. However, Swedish students typically graduate with a lot of debt due to the high cost of living in their country, especially in the large cities such as Stockholm. The ratio of debt to expected income after graduation for Swedes was about 80% in 2013. In the U.S., despite incessant talk of student debt reaching epic proportions, that number stood at 60%. Moreover, about seven out of eight Swedes graduate with debt, compared to one half in the U.S. In the 2008-9 academic year, virtually all Swedish students take advantage of state-sponsored financial aid packages from a govern agency known as the Centrala Studiestödsnämnden (CSN), which include low-interest loans with long repayment schedules (25 years or until the student turns 60). In Sweden, student aid is based on their own earnings whereas in some other countries, such as Germany or the United States, such aid is premised on parental income as parents are expected to help foot the bill for their children's education. In the 2008-9 academic year, Australia, Austria, Japan, the Netherlands, and New Zealand saw an increase in both the average tuition fees of their public universities for full-time domestic students and the percentage of students taking advantage of state-sponsored student aid compared to 1995. In the United States, there was an increase in the former but not the latter.
In 2005, judges in Karlsruhe, Germany, struck down a ban on university fees as unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the constitutional right of German states to regulate their own higher education systems. This ban was introduced in order to ensure equality of access to higher education regardless of socioeconomic class. Bavarian Science Minister Thomas Goppel told the Associated Press, "Fees will help to preserve the quality of universities." Supporters of fees argued that they would help ease the financial burden on universities and would incentivize students to study more efficiently, despite not covering the full cost of higher education, an average of €8,500 as of 2005. Opponents believed fees would make it more difficult for people to study and graduate on time. Germany also suffered from a brain drain, as many bright researchers moved abroad while relatively few international students were interested in coming to Germany. This has led to the decline of German research institutions.
In English-speaking countries
In the 1990s, due to a combination of financial hardship and the fact that universities elsewhere charged tuition, British universities pressed the government to allow them to take in fees. A nominal tuition fee of £1,000 was introduced in autumn 1998. Because not all parents would be able to pay all the fees in one go, monthly payment options, loans, and grants were made available. Some were concerned that making people pay for higher education may deter applicants. This turned out not to be the case. The number of applications fell by only 2.9% in 1998, and mainly due to mature students rather than 18-year-olds.
In 2012, £9,000 worth of student fees were introduced. Despite this, the number of people interested in pursuing higher education grew at a faster rate than the UK population. In 2017, almost half of Britons have received higher education by the age of 30. Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced the goal of having half of young Britons having a university degree in 1999, though he missed the 2010 deadline. Demand for higher education in the United Kingdom remains strong, driven by the need for high-skilled workers from both the public and private sectors. There is, however, a widening gender gap. As of 2017, women were more likely to attend or have attended university than men, 55% to 43%, a 12% difference.
In Australia, university tuition fees were introduced in 1989. Regardless, the number of applicants has risen considerably. By the 1990s, students and their families were expected to pay 37% of the cost, up from a quarter in the late 1980s. The most expensive subjects were law, medicine, and dentistry, followed by the natural sciences, and then by the arts and social studies. Under the new funding scheme, the Government of Australia also capped the number of people eligible for higher education, enabling schools to recruits more well-financed (though not necessarily bright) students.
According to the Pew Research Center, 53% of American Millennials attended or were enrolled in university in 2002. The number of young people attending university was 44% in 1986. Historically, university students were more likely to be male than female. The difference was especially great during the second half of the twentieth century, when enrollment rose dramatically compared to the 1940s. This trend continues into the twenty-first century. But things started to change by the turn of the new millennium. By the late 2010s, the situation has reversed. Women are now more likely to enroll in university than men. In 2018, upwards of one third of each sex is a university student.
In the United States today, high school students are generally encouraged to attend college or university after graduation while the options of technical school and vocational training are often neglected. Historically, high schools separated students on career tracks, with programs aimed at students bound for higher education and those bound for the workforce. Students with learning disabilities or behavioral issues were often directed towards vocational or technical schools. All this changed in the late 1980s and early 1990s thanks to a major effort in the large cities to provide more abstract academic education to everybody. The mission of high schools became preparing students for college, referred to as "high school to Harvard." However, this program faltered in the 2010s, as institutions of higher education came under heightened skepticism due to high costs and disappointing results. People became increasingly concerned about debts and deficits. No longer were promises of educating "citizens of the world" or estimates of economic impact coming from abstruse calculations sufficient. Colleges and universities found it necessary to prove their worth by clarifying how much money from which industry and company funded research, and how much it would cost to attend.
Because jobs (that suited what one studied) were so difficult to find in the few years following the Great Recession, the value of getting a liberal arts degree and studying the humanities at an American university came into question, their ability to develop a well-rounded and broad-minded individual notwithstanding. As of 2019, the total college debt has exceeded US$1.5 trillion, and two out of three college graduates are saddled with debt. The average borrower owes US$37,000, up US$10,000 from ten years before. A 2019 survey by TD Ameritrade found that over 18% of Millennials (and 30% of Generation Z) said they have considered taking a gap year between high school and college.
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that between 2008 and 2017, the number of people majoring in English plummeted by just over a quarter. At the same time, those in philosophy and religion fell 22% and those who studied foreign languages dropped 16%. Meanwhile, the number of university students majoring in homeland security, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and healthcare skyrocketed. (See right.)
According to the U.S. Department of Education, people with technical or vocational trainings are slightly more likely to be employed than those with a bachelor's degree and significantly more likely to be employed in their fields of specialty. The United States currently suffers from a shortage of skilled tradespeople.
Despite the fact that educators and political leaders, such as President Barack Obama, have been trying to years to improve the quality of STEM education in the United States, and that various polls have demonstrated that more students are interested in these subjects, graduating with a STEM degree is a different kettle of fish altogether. Data collected by the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) in 2011 showed that although these students typically came in with excellent high school GPAs and SAT scores, among science and engineering students, including pre-medical students, 60% changed their majors or failed to graduate, twice the attrition rate of all other majors combined. Despite their initial interest in secondary school, many university students find themselves overwhelmed by the reality of a rigorous STEM education. Some are mathematically unskilled, while others are simply lazy. The National Science Board raised the alarm all the way back in the mid-1980s that students often forget why they wanted to be scientists and engineers in the first place. Many bright students had an easy time in high school and failed to develop good study habits. In contrast, Chinese, Indian, and Singaporean students are exposed to mathematics and science at a high level from a young age. Moreover, given two students who are equally prepared, the one who goes to a more prestigious university is less likely to graduate with a STEM degree than the one who attends a less difficult school. Competition can defeat even the top students. Meanwhile, grade inflation is a real phenomenon in the humanities, giving students an attractive alternative if their STEM ambitions prove too difficult to achieve. Whereas STEM classes build on top of each other – one has to master the subject matter before moving to the next course – and have black and white answers, this is not the case in the humanities, where things are a lot less clear-cut.
A February 2018 survey of 1,350 individuals found that 66% of the American millennials (and 41% of all U.S. adults) surveyed did not know what Auschwitz was, while 41% incorrectly claimed that 2 million Jews or fewer were killed during the Holocaust, and 22% said that they had never heard of the Holocaust. Over 95% of American millennials were unaware that the Holocaust occurred in the Baltic states, which lost over 90% of their pre-war Jewish population, and 49% were not able to name a single Nazi concentration camp or ghetto in German-occupied Europe. However, at least 93% surveyed believed that teaching about the Holocaust in school is important and 96% believed the Holocaust happened.
The YouGov survey found that 42% of American millennials have never heard of Mao Zedong, who ruled China from 1949 to 1976 and was responsible for the deaths of 20–45 million people; another 40% are unfamiliar with Che Guevara.
A 2004 Gallup poll of Americans aged 13 to 17 found that 71% said their social and political views were more or less the same as those of their parents. 21% thought they were more liberal and 7% more conservative. According to demographer and public policy analyst Philip Longman, "even among baby boomers, those who wound up having children have turned out to be remarkably similar to their parents in their attitudes about 'family' values." In the postwar era, most returning servicemen looked forward to "making a home and raising a family" with their wives and lovers, and for many men, family life was a source of fulfillment and a refuge from the stress of their careers. Life in the late 1940s and 1950s was centered about the family and the family was centered around children. Researchers found that while only 9% of teenagers who identified with the Republican Party considered themselves more conservative than their parents, compared to 77% who shared their parents' views, 25% of adolescents who identified with the Democratic Party and 28% of politically independent teens said they were more liberal than their parents. Another 2004 Gallup poll of the same age group found that a clear majority of teenagers considered themselves to be politically moderate, 56%. Only 7% and 18% deemed themselves very conservative or conservative, respectively, and 10% and 6% believed they were liberal or very liberal, respectively. (The bar plot roughly resembles a Gaussian distribution or an isosceles triangle centered around moderates. See right.) By comparing with a 2004 poll of Americans aged 18 and over, Gallup discovered that teens were substantially more moderate then adults (56% to 38%), less conservative (25% to 40%), and just about as liberal (16% to 19%). However, political scientist Elias Dinas discovered, by studying the results from the Political Socialisation Panel Study and further data from the United Kingdom and the United States, that while children born to politically engaged parents tended to be politically engaged themselves, those who absorbed their parents' views the earliest were also the most likely to abandon them later in life. According to Sean Simpsons of Ipsos, people are more likely to vote when they have more at stake, such as children to raise, homes to maintain, and income taxes to pay. Millennials are more willing to vote than previous generations when they were at the same age. With voter rates being just below 50% for the four presidential cycles before 2017, they have already surpassed Gen Xers of the same age who were at just 36%.
2018 surveys of teenagers 13 to 17 and adults aged 18 or over conducted by the Pew Research Center found that Millennials and Generation Z held similar views on various political and social issues. More specifically, 56% of Millennials believed that climate change is real and is due to human activities while only 8% reject the scientific consensus on climate change. 64% wanted the government to play a more active role in solving their problems. 65% were indifferent towards pre-nuptial cohabitation. 48% considered single motherhood to be neither a positive or a negative for society. 61% saw increased ethnic or racial diversity as good for society. 47% did the same for same-sex marriage, and 53% interracial marriage. (See chart.) In most cases, Millennials tended hold quite different views from the Silent Generation, with the Baby Boomers and Generation X in between. In the case of financial responsibility in a two-parent household, though, majorities from across the generations answered that it should be shared, with 58% for the Silent Generation, 73% for the Baby Boomers, 78% for Generation X, and 79% for both the Millennials and Generation Z. Across all the generations surveyed, at least 84% thought that both parents ought to be responsible for rearing children. Very few thought that fathers should be the ones mainly responsible for taking care of children.
Surveys of political attitudes among millennials in the United Kingdom have suggested increasingly social liberal views, as well as higher overall support for classically liberal economic policies than preceding generations. They are more likely to support same-sex marriage and the legalization of drugs. A 2013 YouGov poll of almost a thousand people aged 18 to 24 in the United Kingdom found that 73% in total supported the legalization of same-sex marriage and only 15% opposed.
The Economist parallels this with millennials in the United States, whose attitudes are more supportive of social liberal policies and same-sex marriage relative to other demographics. However, a 2018 poll conducted by Harris on behalf of the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD found that despite being frequently described as the most tolerant segment of society, people aged 18 to 34—most Millennials and the oldest members of Generation Z—have become less accepting LGBT individuals compared to previous years. In 2016, 63% of Americans in that age group said they felt comfortable interacting with members of the LGBT community; that number dropped to 53% in 2017 and then to 45% in 2018. On top of that, more people reported discomfort learning that a family member was LGBT (from 29% in 2017 to 36% in 2018), having a child learning learning LGBT history (30% to 39%), or having an LGBT doctor (27% to 34%). Harris found that young women were driving this development. Results from this Harris poll were released on the 50th anniversary of the riots that broke out in Stonewall Inn, New York City, in June 1969, thought to be the start of the LGBT rights movement. At that time, homosexuality was considered a mental illness or a crime in many U.S. states.
According to the same 2013 YouGov poll, the five most popular political parties for young Britons were the Labour Party (23%), the Conservative Party (12%), the Liberal Democratic Party (7%), the Green Party (7%), and the United Kingdom Independence Party (6%). 19% of British youths identified with no party whatsoever. When asked which politician they admired, 77% picked the 'none' option, followed by Boris Johnson (4%). Overall, 60% had an unfavorable of the British political system. 12% thought British immigration laws were too tough, 54% said they were too lax, and 16% deemed them appropriate. About one third opined that taxes and public spending were too high. 22% said they were insufficient and one fifth thought they were about right. 34% believed welfare benefits were too generous and should be cut. 22% argued they were not enough and should be increased and 24% thought they struck the right balance. Almost three quarters agreed that the welfare system was frequently abused and 63% thought those who genuinely needed it were branded as 'scroungers'. A total of 65% were either very or fairly proud of the United Kingdom Armed Forces and 77% the National Health Service (NHS).
Pew Research described millennials as playing a significant role in the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Millennials were between 12 and 27 during the 2008 U.S Presidential election.
A 2013 Pew Research Poll found that 84% of millennials, born since 1980, who were at that time between the ages of 18 and 32, favored legalizing the use of marijuana. As of 2019, it is legal in Canada, Uruguay, and 33 U.S. states.
Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist and Democratic candidate in the 2016 United States presidential election, was the most popular candidate among millennial voters in the primary phase, having garnered more votes from people under 30 in 21 states than the major parties' candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, did combined. A 2016 Harvard poll found that 40% of millennials supported the Democratic Party, 22% did the Republican Party and 36% were Independents. A 2018 Gallup poll found that people aged 18 to 29 have a more favorable view of socialism than capitalism, 51% to 45%. Nationally, 56% of Americans prefer capitalism compared to 37% who favor socialism. Older Americans consistently prefer capitalism to socialism. Whether the current attitudes of millennials and Generation Z on capitalism and socialism will persist or dissipate as they grow older remains to be seen. Turnout among voters aged 18 to 29 in the 2016 election was 50%. Hillary Clinton won 55% of the millennial vote while Donald Trump secured 37%. A Reuters-Ipsos survey of 16,000 registered voters aged 18 to 34 conducted in the first three months of 2018 (and before the 2018 midterm election) showed that support for Democratic Party among such voters fell by nine percent between 2016 and 2018 and that an increasing number favored the Republican Party's approach to the economy. This is despite the fact that almost two thirds of young voters disapproved of the performance of Republican President Donald J. Trump. According to the Pew Research Center, only 27% of Millennials approved of the Trump presidency while 65% disapproved.
Historically, political participation among young Canadian voters has been low, no higher than 40%. However, the 2015 federal election was an exception, when 57% of the people aged 18 to 34 voted. Canadian millennials played a key role in the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada. While Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party received approximately the same number of votes as they did in 2011, the surge in the youth vote was enough to push Trudeau to the top. His core campaign message centered around gender equality, tolerance, legalizing marijuana, addressing climate change, and governmental transparency while Harper focused on tax cuts. Nevertheless, political scientist Melanee Thomas at the University of Calgary warned that the electoral power of this demographic group should not be overestimated, since millennials do not vote as a single bloc. Even though millennials tend to vote for left-leaning candidates, certain items from right-leaning platforms can resonate with them, such as high but affordable standards of living.
A 2018 survey of 4,000 Canadian millennials by Abacus Data found that 54% of the people asked favored socialism and 46% capitalism. Most want to address climate change, alleviate poverty, and adopt a more open immigration policy, but most important were micro-economic concerns, such as housing affordability, the cost of living, healthcare, and job-market uncertainties. Housing affordability is a key political issue for young Canadians, regardless of where they live, urban, suburban, or rural Canada. Because clear majorities are in favor of government interventionism, they generally tolerate deficit spending.
In the United Kingdom, according to a YouGov poll conducted right before the referendum on the possible departure of the U.K. from the European Union (Brexit), almost three quarters of voters aged 18 to 24 opposed leaving the E.U. while just under one fifth supported leaving. Meanwhile, 34% of pensioners wanted to remain and 59% wanted to leave. Older people were more likely to vote. By analyzing polling data, the Wall Street Journal found that 19% of voters aged 18 to 24 either did not vote or were unsure, as did 17% of voters aged 25 to 49. Meanwhile, 10% of voters aged 50 to 64 and 6% of voters aged 65 and over abstained or were undecided. Overall, 52% of British voters chose to leave and 48% to remain in the E.U.
Neil Howe believes that a defining trait of millennials is that they are more likely to support political correctness than members of older generations. In 2015, a Pew Research study found 40% of millennials in the United States supported government restriction of public speech offensive to minority groups. Support for restricting offensive speech was lower among older generations, with 27% of Gen Xers, 24% of Baby Boomers, and only 12% of the Silent Generation supporting such restrictions. Pew Research noted similar age related trends in the United Kingdom, but not in Germany and Spain, where millennials were less supportive of restricting offensive speech than older generations. In France, Italy and Poland no significant age differences were observed. In the U.S. and UK, millennials have brought changes to higher education via drawing attention to microaggressions and advocating for implementation of safe spaces and trigger warnings in the university setting. Critics of such changes have raised concerns regarding their impact on free speech, asserting these changes can promote censorship, while proponents have described these changes as promoting inclusiveness.
Millennials that have, or are, serving in the military may have drastically different views and opinions than their non-veteran counterparts. Because of this, some don't identify with their generation; this coincides with most millennials having a lack of exposure and knowledge of the military, yet trust its leadership. Yet, the view of some senior leadership of serving millennials are not always positive.
Gallup polls conducted in 2019 revealed that 62% of people aged 18 to 29—older members of Generation Z and younger Millennials—support giving women access to abortion while 33% opposed. In general, the older someone was, the less likely that they supported abortion. 56% of people aged 65 or over did not approve of abortion compared to 37% who did. (See chart to the right.) Gallup found in 2018 that nationwide, Americans are split on the issue of abortion, with equal numbers of people considering themselves "pro-life" or "pro-choice", 48%.
Polls conducted by Gallup and the Pew Research Center found that support for stricter gun laws among people aged 18 to 29 and 18 to 36, respectively, is statistically no different from that of the general population. According to Gallup, 57% of Americans are in favor of stronger gun control legislation. In a 2017 poll, Pew found that among the age group 18 to 29, 27% personally owned a gun and 16% lived with a gun owner, for a total of 43% living in a household with at least one gun. Nationwide, a similar percentage of American adults lived in a household with a gun (41%).
According to a 2019 CBS News poll on 2,143 U.S. residents, 72% of Americans 18 to 44 years of age — Generations X, Y (Millennials), and Z — believed that it is a matter of personal responsibility to tackle climate change while 61% of older Americans did the same. In addition, 42% of American adults under 45 years old thought that the U.S. could realistically transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 while 29% deemed it unrealistic and 29% were unsure. Those numbers for older Americans are 34%, 40%, and 25%, respectively. Differences in opinion might be due to education as younger Americans are more likely to have been taught about climate change in schools than their elders. As of 2019, only 17% of electricity in the U.S. is generated from renewable energy, of which, 7% is from hydroelectric dams, 6% from wind turbines, and 1% solar panels. There are no rivers for new dams. Meanwhile, nuclear power plants generate about 20%, but their number is declining as they are being deactivated but not replaced.
Harvard University's Institute of Politics Youth Poll asked voters aged 18 to 29 – younger millennials and the first wave of Generation Z – what they would like to be priorities for U.S. foreign policy. They found that the top issues for these voters were countering terrorism and protecting human rights (both 39%), and protecting the environment (34%). Preventing nuclear proliferation and defending U.S. allies were not as important to young American voters. The Poll found that support for single-payer universal healthcare and free college dropped, down 8% to 47% and down 5% to 51%, respectively, if cost estimates were provided.
Preferred modes of transportation
Millennials in the U.S. were initially not keen on getting a driver's license or owning a vehicle thanks to new licensing laws and the state of the economy when they came of age, but the oldest among them have already begun buying cars in great numbers. In 2016, Millennials purchased more cars and trucks than any living generation except the Baby Boomers; in fact, Millennials overtook Baby Boomers in car ownership in California that year. A working paper by economists Christopher Knittel and Elizabeth Murphy then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Household Transportation Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau, and American Community Survey in order to compare the driving habits of the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the oldest millennials (born between 1980 and 1984). That found that on the surface, the popular story is true: American Millennials on average own 0.4 fewer cars than their elders. But when various factors – including income, marital status, number of children, and geographical location – were taken into account, such a distinction ceased to be. In addition, once those factors are accounted for, millennials actually drive longer distances than the Baby Boomers. Economic forces, namely low gasoline prices, higher income, and suburban growth, result in millennials having an attitude towards cars that is no different from that of their predecessors. An analysis of the National Household Travel Survey by the State Smart Transportation Initiative revealed that higher-income millennials drive less than their peers probably because they are able to afford the higher costs of living in large cities, where they can take advantage of alternative modes of transportation, including public transit and ride-hailing services.
According to the Pew Research Center, young people are more likely to ride public transit. In 2016, 21% of adults aged 18 to 21 took public transit on a daily, almost daily, or weekly basis. By contrast, this number of all U.S. adults was 11%. Nationwide, about three quarters of American commuters drive their own cars. Also according to Pew, 51% of U.S. adults aged 18 to 29 used a ride-hailing service such as Lyft or Uber in 2018 compared to 28% in 2015. That number for all U.S. adults were 15% in 2015 and 36% in 2018. In general, ride-hailing service users tend to be urban residents, young (18-29), university graduates, and high income earners ($75,000 a year or more).
Urban researcher Richard Florida and his colleague Charlotta Mellander studied data from the American Community Survey's five-year estimates for 2017 covering all 382 U.S. metropolitan areas and developed a Metro Car-free Index based on the percentages of households that do not own a vehicle, and of commuters who ride public transit, bike, or walk to work. They found that the largest clusters of metropolitan areas in which it was feasible to not own a car were the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington, D.C.) and the Pacific Northwest Corridor (Seattle to Portland, Oregon). Outside of these, there were Chicagoland and Los Angeles County. All of these places were densely populated with high costs of living. Mellander discovered that living in a car-free metropolitan area was positively correlated with having university degrees (.54), and being a member of the creative class (.48), while negatively correlated with being a member of the working class (.45). (Correlation does not mean causation.)
In the U.S., millennials are the least likely to be religious when compared to older generations. There is a trend towards irreligion that has been increasing since the 1940s. 29 percent of Americans born between 1983 and 1994 are irreligious, as opposed to 21 percent born between 1963 and 1981, 15 percent born between 1948 and 1962 and only 7 percent born before 1948. A 2005 study looked at 1,385 people aged 18 to 25 and found that more than half of those in the study said that they pray regularly before a meal. One-third said that they discussed religion with friends, attended religious services, and read religious material weekly. Twenty-three percent of those studied did not identify themselves as religious practitioners. A Pew Research Center study on millennials shows that of those between 18–29 years old, only 3% of these emerging adults self-identified as "atheists" and only 4% self-identified as "agnostics". Overall, 25% of millennials are "Nones" and 75% are religiously affiliated.
Over half of millennials polled in the United Kingdom in 2013 said they had "no religion nor attended a place of worship", other than for a wedding or a funeral. 25% said they "believe in a God", while 19% believed in a "spiritual greater power" and 38% said they did not believe in God nor any other "greater spiritual power". The poll also found 41% thought religion was "the cause of evil" in the world more often than good. The British Social Attitudes Survey found that 71% of British 18–24 year-olds were not religious, with just 3% affiliated to the once-dominant Church of England.
A 2013 joint study by sociologists at the University of Virginia and Harvard University found that the decline and disappearance of stable full-time jobs with health insurance and pensions for people who lack a college degree has had profound effects on working-class Americans, who now are less likely to marry and have children within marriage than those with college degrees. Data from a 2014 study of U.S. millennials revealed over 56% of this cohort considers themselves as part of the working class, with only approximately 35% considering themselves as part of the middle class; this class identity is the lowest polling of any generation.
In March 2014, the Pew Research Center issued a report about how "millennials in adulthood" are "detached from institutions and networked with friends." The report said millennials are somewhat more upbeat than older adults about America's future, with 49% of millennials saying the country's best years are ahead, though they're the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt and unemployment.
Research by the Urban Institute conducted in 2014, projected that if current trends continue, millennials will have a lower marriage rate compared to previous generations, predicting that by age 40, 31% of millennial women will remain single, approximately twice the share of their single Gen X counterparts. The data showed similar trends for males. A 2016 study from Pew Research showed millennials delay some activities considered rites of passage of adulthood with data showing young adults aged 18–34 were more likely to live with parents than with a relationship partner, an unprecedented occurrence since data collection began in 1880. Data also showed a significant increase in the percentage of young adults living with parents compared to the previous demographic cohort, Generation X, with 23% of young adults aged 18–34 living with parents in 2000, rising to 32% in 2014. Additionally, in 2000, 43% of those aged 18–34 were married or living with a partner, with this figure dropping to 32% in 2014. High student debt is described as one reason for continuing to live with parents, but may not be the dominant factor for this shift as the data shows the trend is stronger for those without a college education. Richard Fry, a senior economist for Pew Research said of millennials, "they're the group much more likely to live with their parents," further stating that "they're concentrating more on school, careers and work and less focused on forming new families, spouses or partners and children".
According to a cross-generational study comparing millennials to Generation X conducted at Wharton School of Business, more than half of millennial undergraduates surveyed do not plan to have children. The researchers compared surveys of the Wharton graduating class of 1992 and 2012. In 1992, 78% of women planned to eventually have children dropping to 42% in 2012. The results were similar for male students. The research revealed among both genders the proportion of undergraduates who reported they eventually planned to have children had dropped in half over the course of a generation.
Sports and fitness
Fewer American millennials follow sports than their Generation X predecessors, with a McKinsey survey finding that 38 percent of millennials in contrast to 45 percent of Generation X are committed sports fans. However, the trend is not uniform across all sports; the gap disappears for National Basketball Association, Ultimate Fighting Championship, English Premier League and college sports. For example, a survey in 2013 found that engagement with mixed martial arts had increased in the 21st century and was more popular than boxing and wrestling for Americans aged 18 to 34 years old, in contrast to those aged 35 and over who preferred boxing. In the United States, while the popularity of American football and the National Football League has declined among millennials, the popularity of Association football and Major League Soccer has increased more among millennials than for any other generation, and as of 2018 was the second most popular sport among those aged 18 to 34. The other popular activities included outdoor jogging or running.
The Physical Activity Council's 2018 Participation Report found that in the U.S., millennials were more likely than other generations to participate in water sports such as stand up paddling, board-sailing and surfing. According to the survey of 30,999 Americans, which was conducted in 2017, approximately half of U.S. millennials participated in high caloric activities while approximately one quarter were sedentary. The 2018 report from the Physical Activity Council found millennials were more active than Baby Boomers in 2017. Thirty-five percent of both millennials and Generation X were reported to be "active to a healthy level", with Millennial's activity level reported as higher overall than that of Generation X in 2017.
According to a 2018 report from Cancer Research UK, millennials in the United Kingdom are on track to have the highest rates of overweight and obesity, with current data trends indicating millennials will overtake the Baby boomer generation in this regard, making millennials the heaviest generation since current records began. Cancer Research UK reports that more than 70% of millennials will be overweight or obese by ages 35–45, in comparison to 50% of Baby boomers who were overweight or obese at the same ages.
In 2010 the Journal of Business and Psychology, contributors Myers and Sadaghiani find millennials "expect close relationships and frequent feedback from supervisors" to be a main point of differentiation. Multiple studies observe millennials’ associating job satisfaction with free flow of information, strong connectivity to supervisors, and more immediate feedback. Hershatter and Epstein, researchers from Emory University, argue a lot of these traits can be linked to millennials entering the educational system on the cusp of academic reform, which created a much more structured educational system. Some argue in the wake of these reforms, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, millennials have increasingly sought the aid of mentors and advisers, leading to 66% of millennials seeking a flat work environment.
Hershatter and Epstein also stress a growing importance on work-life balance. Studies show nearly one-third of students' top priority is to "balance personal and professional life". The Brain Drain Study shows nearly 9 out of 10 millennials place an importance on work-life balance, with additional surveys demonstrating the generation to favor familial over corporate values. Studies also show a preference for work-life balance, which contrasts to the Baby Boomers' work-centric attitude.
Data also suggests millennials are driving a shift towards the public service sector. In 2010, Myers and Sadaghiani published research in the Journal of Business and Psychology stating heightened participation in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps as a result of millennials, with volunteering being at all-time highs. Volunteer activity between 2007 and 2008 show the millennial age group experienced almost three-times the increase of the overall population, which is consistent with a survey of 130 college upperclassmen depicting an emphasis on altruism in their upbringing. This has led, according to a Harvard University Institute of Politics, six out of ten millennials to consider a career in public service.
The 2014 Brookings publication shows a generational adherence to corporate social responsibility, with the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) 2013 survey and Universum's 2011 survey, depicting a preference to work for companies engaged in the betterment of society. Millennials' shift in attitudes has led to data depicting 64% of millennials would take a 60% pay cut to pursue a career path aligned with their passions, and financial institutions have fallen out of favor with banks comprising 40% of the generation's least liked brands.
In 2008, author Ron Alsop called the millennials "Trophy Kids," a term that reflects a trend in competitive sports, as well as many other aspects of life, where mere participation is frequently enough for a reward. It has been reported that this is an issue in corporate environments. Some employers are concerned that millennials have too great expectations from the workplace. Some studies predict they will switch jobs frequently, holding many more jobs than Gen Xers due to their great expectations. Psychologist Jean Twenge reports data suggesting there are differences between older and younger millennials regarding workplace expectations, with younger millennials being "more practical" and "more attracted to industries with steady work and are more likely to say they are willing to work overtime" which Twenge attributes to younger millennials coming of age following the financial crisis of 2007–2008.
There is also a contention that the major differences are found solely between millennials and Generation X. Researchers from the University of Missouri and The University of Tennessee conducted a study based on measurement equivalence to determine if such a difference does in fact exist. The study looked at 1,860 participants who had completed the Multidimensional Work Ethic Profile (MWEP), a survey aimed at measuring identification with work-ethic characteristics, across a 12-year period spanning from 1996 to 2008. The results of the findings suggest the main difference in work ethic sentiments arose between the two most recent generational cohorts, Generation X and millennials, with relatively small variances between the two generations and their predecessor, the Baby Boomers.
A meta study conducted by researchers from The George Washington University and The U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences questions the validity of workplace differences across any generational cohort. According to the researchers, disagreement in which events to include when assigning generational cohorts, as well as varied opinions on which age ranges to include in each generational category are the main drivers behind their skepticism. The analysis of 20 research reports focusing on the three work-related factors of job satisfaction, organizational commitment and intent to turn over proved any variation was too small to discount the impact of employee tenure and aging of individuals. Newer research shows that millennials change jobs for the same reasons as other generations—namely, more money and a more innovative work environment. They look for versatility and flexibility in the workplace, and strive for a strong work–life balance in their jobs and have similar career aspirations to other generations, valuing financial security and a diverse workplace just as much as their older colleagues.
Use of digital technology
In their 2007 book, authors Junco and Mastrodicasa expanded on the work of William Strauss and Neil Howe to include research-based information about the personality profiles of millennials, especially as it relates to higher education. They conducted a large-sample (7,705) research study of college students. They found that Next Generation college students, born between 1983–1992, were frequently in touch with their parents and they used technology at higher rates than people from other generations. In their survey, they found that 97% of these students owned a computer, 94% owned a mobile phone, and 56% owned an MP3 player. They also found that students spoke with their parents an average of 1.5 times a day about a wide range of topics. Other findings in the Junco and Mastrodicasa survey revealed 76% of students used instant messaging, 92% of those reported multitasking while instant messaging, 40% of them used television to get most of their news, and 34% of students surveyed used the Internet as their primary news source. Older millennials came of age prior to widespread usage and availability of smartphones, defined as those born 1988 and earlier, in contrast to younger millennials, those born in 1989 and later, who were exposed to this technology in their teen years.
Some millennials enjoy having hundreds of channels from cable TV. However, some other millennials do not even have a TV, so they watch media over the Internet using smartphones and tablets. One of the most popular forms of media use by millennials is social networking. In 2010, research was published in the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research which claimed that students who used social media and decided to quit showed the same withdrawal symptoms of a drug addict who quit their stimulant. Marc Prensky coined the term "digital native" to describe "K through college" students in 2001, explaining they "represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology." Millennials are identified as "digital natives" by the Pew Research Center which conducted a survey titled "Millennials in Adulthood".
Millennials use social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to create a different sense of belonging, make acquaintances, and to remain connected with friends. In the PBS Frontline episode "Generation Like" there is discussion about millennials, their dependence on technology, and the ways the social media sphere is commoditized.
A 2015 study found that the frequency of nearsightedness has doubled in the United Kingdom within the last 50 years. Ophthalmologist Steve Schallhorn, chairman of the Optical Express International Medical Advisory Board, noted that research have pointed to a link between the regular use of handheld electronic devices and eyestrain. The American Optometric Association sounded the alarm on a similar vein. According to a spokeswoman, digital eyestrain, or computer vision syndrome, is "rampant, especially as we move toward smaller devices and the prominence of devices increase in our everyday lives." Symptoms include dry and irritated eyes, fatigue, eye strain, blurry vision, difficulty focusing, headaches. However, the syndrome does not cause vision loss or any other permanent damage. In order to alleviate or prevent eyestrain, the Vision Council recommends that people limit screen time, take frequent breaks, adjust screen brightness, change the background from bright colors to gray, increase text sizes, and blinking more often.
As their economic prospects improve, most millennials say they desire marriage, children, and home ownership. Demographer and futurist Mark McCrindle suggested the name "Generation Alpha" (or Generation ) for the people born after Generation Z, the offspring of millennials, noting that scientific disciplines often move to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the Roman alphabet. McCrindle predicted that modern electronic communication technologies will be more integrated into their lives than ever before, and that Generation will most likely delay standard life markers such as marriage, childbirth, and retirements, as did the few previous generations. He also predicted that they will have a longer life expectancy and smaller family sizes. The first wave of Generation will reach adulthood by the 2030s. By that time, the human population will be about nine billion, and the world will have the highest proportion of people over 60 years of age in history, meaning this demographic cohort will bear the burden of an aging population.
As of 2016, there were some 11 million Millennial parents in the U.S., who gave birth to some 9,000 children each day. Globally, there are some two and a half million people belonging to Generation Alpha born every week and their number is expected to reach two billion by 2025.
- Generation gap
- Generation Snowflake, Little Emperor Syndrome, and Strawberry generation
- List of generations
- Post-80s and Post-90s
- 9X Generation
- Sampo generation
- Youth bulge
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- Why your smartphone is irresistible (and why it’s worth trying to resist), PBS Newshour. April 21, 2017. Psychologist Adam Alter.