The Psychology of Being a Millennial
I am a millennial. Whew, that feels good to get off my chest.
I’m proud to be a millennial!
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are defined as those born between 1981 and 1996. Gen X-er’s were born between 1965 and 1980. Millennials tend to get a bad rap: we’re “lazy”, “moochers”, and “job-hoppers”. Even if this is true, we should be asking “why?” I hope this post gives everyone insight into this amazing and large population and why we should all be proud.
And yes, there is a lot to be proud of!
We, millennials, are the most likely generation to use public libraries (even in the age of technology)
We’re more likely to go to college (and complete a degree)
We’re more open-mined (yes, even to politics, other generations, religion, mental health, the list goes on)
We ask lots of questions (to better understand)
We don’t like labels (on humans)
We’re more diverse (ethnically, politically, etc.)
We freelance and have more side-hustles (for extra cash flow, and just to make our hobbies more meaningful – take this blog for example!)
We’re more charitable (contrary to popular belief)
And guess what? We have past generations to thank for a lot of that and more. This is where I summarize the wonderful Chris Gethard (check out his Podcast Beautiful/Anonymous if you haven’t already): we all need to respect each other. Each generation figures out their ever-changing world in their own way.
The Truths and Myths
Millennials are waiting longer to get married.
True. Only 28% of millennials are married now compared to 38% of Gen Xer’s in 1998. We’re also waiting longer to have children and buy a home (see below). One reason for this is more of us are going to college and beyond. Much of our focus has shifted to education and career, and away from starting the “traditional” family.
Millennials are making more money than Gen X-er’s at the same age.
False. The average millennial is making $61,003 (ages 18-33) whereas Gen X-er’s were making an average of $63,365 at the same age. Other studies say we actually earn 20% less than our parents at the same age.
Millennials are living at home (with their parents).
True. And more than past generations. Why? Well, it’s not lack of jobs - unemployment for millennials is way down. It might be because we don’t like moving (see my first post on The Psychology of Moving). Most millennials who live with their parents or family “boomeranged” back there after college. Meaning they lived in dorms, apartments, or shared housing of some kind during college. Then, when friends and peers moved for a job, or back home themselves, others did as well as the opportunity was no longer there. However, living with parents is also prevalent in those who did not attend college. The labor market might contribute to this. Gen X-er’s haven’t retired yet, leaving fewer jobs for those in this market. Costs of living independently have also risen exponentially. Rent is up, so are groceries, yet we’re making the same salary as our comparative Gen X-er’s. Not just employment, but wages have actually decreased for those who are less-educated in the millennial generation. We’re also not likely to buy a house simply because we don’t need one (see above: no spouse, no kids, no need)!
Millennials are job-hopping more than past generations.
False. We are just as likely to stick with our employers as our Gen X counterparts. In fact, among those with a bachelor’s degree, we stick with our employers longer. So where did this myth come from? It might be because more of us went on to higher education, so it seemed like we weren’t being productive or contributing to the workforce. However, the more education, the more likely we are stick with an employer longer. Dual-income households are also rising in our generation, making for more job tenure. Those occupations that require licensing and continuing ed are also rising, making for employed millennials less likely to leave to their job.
Millennials are less religious than other generations.
True. We’re less likely to attend church, pray, or read a religious text. In a wonderful interview with Michael Hout, Professor of Sociology at NY University, The Pew Research Center tries to understand why this is. One reason might be our lack of trust in organizations. Like I said above, millennials ask a lot of questions before committing to something. We also tend to trust government less. This may also be due to recent scandals. However, we are very spiritual. The millennial generation tends to be “do-it-yourself” generation. If we don’t like thelines drawn by a specific religious sect, we still believe in the overarching themes. Many of those who say they have “no” religion still believe in God and heaven. It’s also important to note that this is not just millennials, but religious identification is decreasing across all generations right now.
Real Life Takeaway
Along with all these facts and stats, it’s also true that most millennials hate the “millennial” label. One reason is because they hate the labels that come with it, when in fact, millennials are extremely hard working, educated, accepting, creative, and innovative. Keep it up millennials, because the truth is, we are becoming the biggest and most represented generation in the world. Let’s keep empowering each other!
Deutschkron, S. (2016, October 6). New study find freelance economy grew to 55 million Americans this year, 35% of total US workforce. Retrieved from https://www.upwork.com/press/2016/10/06/freelancing-in-america-2016/
Fry, R. (2017, February 13). Americans are moving at historically low rates, in part because Millennials are staying put. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/13/americans-are-moving-at-historically-low-rates-in-part-because-millennials-are-staying-put/
Fry, R. (2017, April 19). Millennials aren’t job-hopping any faster than Generation X did. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/19/millennials-arent-job-hopping-any-faster-than-generation-x-did/
Fry, R. (2017, May 5). It’s becoming more common for young adults to live at home – and for longer stretches. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/05/its-becoming-more-common-for-young-adults-to-live-at-home-and-for-longer-stretches/
Geiger, A. (2017, June 21). Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/21/millennials-are-the-most-likely-generation-of-americans-to-use-public-libraries/
Graf, N. (2017, May 16). Today's young workers are more likely than ever to have a bachelor's degree. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/16/todays-young-workers-are-more-likely-than-ever-to-have-a-bachelors-degree/
Maniam, S., & Smith, S. (2017, March 20). A wider partisan and ideological gap between younger, older generations. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/20/a-wider-partisan-and-ideological-gap-between-younger-older-generations/
Masci, D. (2016, January 8). Q & A: Why Millennials are less religious than older Americans. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/08/qa-why-millennials-are-less-religious-than-older-americans/
Newlon, C. (2013, December 11). Millennials: The Giving Generation? Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/11/millennials-most-giving/3962781/
Stokes, B. (2017, February 16). Millennials in many countries are more open than their elders on questions of national identity. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/16/millennials-in-many-countries-are-more-open-than-their-elders-on-questions-of-national-identity/