20 Big Ways Millennials Are Better Off Than Their Parents

Things aren’t entirely rosy for Millennials these days: unemployment among Millennials is twice that of the general population, the average grad is carrying around $25,000 worth of debt, and the wealth gap between older and younger Americans is at its widest point in history. All of these things have gotten Millennials labeled as “Generation Screwed” and many news outlets are reporting that these youngsters will be the first generation not to do as well or better than their parents. It’s all a bit overdramatic, especially considering that stats also reveal some serious benefits of being born Millennial. Millennials may be unlucky and some may currently be struggling but they’re certainly not screwed. In fact, there are numerous ways in which Millennials are doing pretty great. Here, we highlight just a few, to put a more positive spin on what it means to be Millennial in today’s world.

  1. Millennials are more diverse.

    A study conducted by Georgetown and the Public Religion Research Institute found that college-age Millennials between the ages of 18 and 24 are considerably more racially and ethnically diverse than the general population. That diversity can be a distinct advantage in a world that’s ever more connected, allowing young adults to gain a better understanding of cultures, ideas, and beliefs outside of their own.

  2. Using technology comes naturally to Millennials.

    While not all Millennials grew up with computers, the Internet, and smart phones in their homes, most are incredibly comfortable with using technology. Millennials are more likely to report using MP3 players, gaming platforms, and smartphones than non-Millennials. In fact, many Millennials (24% according to a Pew study) feel their tech usage to be one of the defining features of their generation. How does this make them better off? It can help them to find a job in a tech-driven business world, can keep people connected, and can even (though not always) make them more productive on the job.

  3. They’re more accepting.

    While there are still saddening levels of hatred toward minorities, women, and those of differing sexual orientations in the U.S., studies show that Millennials are much more accepting than previous generations of those who are different. Research has documented that Millennials report more daily interactions with those of other races, they’re more accepting of immigrants, they have no problem with interracial dating, they have fewer prejudices against homosexuals, and are generally more accepting of other lifestyles. These attitudes can help Millennials make a wider scope of friends, become more culturally aware, and may even foster a greater sense of national unity.

  4. Millennials are better educated.

    All of those hefty college loans do come with one big benefit: by and large, Millennials are better educated than any generation that came before them. A study done by the Pew Research Center found that 40% of those 18 to 24 were in college in 2008, a higher percentage than the previous generation. Additionally, a whopping 63% of Millennials currently have a bachelor’s degree and another 30% plan to go back to school to get their degrees. While part of the increased drive to get an education may be due to the economy, there’s also evidence that attitudes about education are just generally positive in Millennials, with 80% of those surveyed stating that it is “cool to be smart.”

  5. They have more time to figure out what they want to do.

    While finding a job and becoming financially secure is certainly the ideal, Millennials do have some flexibility that other generations might not have enjoyed. All that time interning, volunteering, and working in a variety of non-degree-related jobs can actually give young adults a chance to really figure out what they’re passionate about, which can make for greater career satisfaction later on.

  6. Millennials are very family-oriented.

    Millennials have frequently been stereotyped as being self-involved and even selfish, yet research hasn’t shown that to be entirely true … at least not any more so than previous generations. Some studies suggest that Millennials may be one of the most family-oriented generations to date. While Millennials may be getting married and having children later in life, 77% of them say raising a family is an essential or very important life objective. In 1977, just 59% of students said the same. And Millennials’ family orientation is about more than just starting their own. Millennials often have strong relationships with their parents and other family members and many consider parents close friends.

  7. They’re more careful with money.

    Millennials’ lack of steady income and loan debt of epic proportions has a positive side, too. It’s made a generation of young adults much more conscious about how and where they spend their money. Millennials have even been dubbed “The Cheapest Generation” as few are willing to shell out on cars (which has become a major issue for car manufacturers) and other large purchases, preferring instead to buy access over ownership. They’re also more likely to save. Twenty-five percent of Millennials contribute to both IRAs and employer-sponsored 401(k)s, compared to just 16% of Boomers, and just 13% expect to have to work into their retirement years.

  8. When they do spend, Millennials are more savvy about purchases.

    An in-depth research report from The Boston Consulting Group found that Millennials don’t just buy things on a single recommendation. They tend to seek out multiple sources for information, generally non-corporate entities and friends, before making any purchases. One thing making that easier is social media, which the report found Millennials often used to read reviews, research products, and to learn more about individual brands.

  9. They’re incredibly social.

    Millennials make ample use of social media to stay engaged with their friends, peers, and even total strangers on the Web. Forty-six percent have 200 or more friends on Facebook, and a whopping 47% feel that their lives are richer when they’re connected to people through social media. Yet this drive to socialize extends beyond the virtual world, too. Millennials are more likely than non-Millennials to engaged in group activities, especially those outside their family. They more frequently dine, shop, and travel with friends and co-workers.

  10. Millennials are often very involved in social causes.

    Many Millennials grew up being taught the value of recycling and community involvement, and as a result, many are driven by civic engagement. The majority of Millennials believe that working for causes is an integral part of life and are more likely to encourage others to support a cause (30% versus 22%) or to participate in fundraising events (27% versus 16%) than non-Millennials. Millennials are also more driven than their parents to purchase products that are associated with a cause and expect companies to care about social issues. When it comes to volunteering, Millennials are also more likely to lend a hand, with 31% participating versus 26% of non-Millennials.

  11. They’re more entrepreneurial.

    One of the positive effects of the dearth of jobs for Millennials is that it has driven many to start their own businesses or to work for small startups, rather than simply to enter the corporate world. Even in 2009, deep in the recession, business startups were at a 14-year high and that level has increased every year since. A recent survey of Millennials showed that 54% of U.S. Millennials either want to start a business or have already started one. An even greater number of minorities wanted to start a business, with 64% and 63% of Latinos and African-Americans respectively expressing their desire to start a company. Sadly, just 8% of those surveyed had started a business and 38% said that the reason they delayed was the economy.

  12. Millennials get more parental support.

    A much larger percentage of today’s young adults are getting help from parents in years past and that might not be an entirely bad thing. Parental help with college costs or with living expenses after school can help Millennials navigate a dismal job market and can set them up for a more secure financial future once they no longer need help from mom and dad.

  13. They commit fewer crimes.

    Millennials may be a group desperate for jobs, but it’s not driving them to a life of crime, according to recent statistics. Since 1973, violent crime rates among offenders 12-20 have dropped substantially, and in 2009 were just over 20 per 1,000 (versus 80 per 1,000 in 1988). Other high-risk behaviors have dropped, too, including teen pregnancy and drug use, showcasing a real positive change in the safety and outlook of Millennials.

  14. They’re redefining success.

    For a generation that’s derided as being materialistic, a surprising number of Millennials are seeking out success in ways that don’t involve a substantial paycheck. A big part of this change may be driven by the lack of high-paying jobs (or jobs at all) that are available to Millennial workers, but that’s not the only factor at work. An article that appeared in Forbes in 2012 revealed that many Millennials are finding new ways to define success that don’t necessarily reflect the values that their parents or grandparents held dear. Instead of “climbing the ladder of unfulfilling societal expectations and consumerism,” many Millennials are seeking out careers that offer a greater sense of well-being, community, and happiness.

  15. They have greater work flexibility.

    While not every job Millennials hold is flexible, research suggests that this aspect is one that Millennials value above many others. As a result, many have sought to start their own businesses or work from smaller companies that can offer greater flexibility (just 7% of Millennials list a Fortune 500 employer on their Facebook page). Some of this flexibility comes from the ability to blend work and life, thanks to new technology, and many Millennials can even work from home or on-the-go. Research shows that 81% of Millennials want to make their own hours at work, compared to just 69% of of Boomers.

  16. Millennial women are better off.

    While Millennials may be struggling overall, female Millennials have it much better than previous generations. They’re much more likely to go to college, with women now making up more than 50% of college students. They’re also less likely to marry for financial security and more likely to attain their own financial stability before entering into a marriage.

  17. They have more self-esteem.

    According to surveys of young people going all the way back to the 1920s, today’s young people have a lot more self-esteem than in generations past. Research has indicated a cultural shift in self-interest, though not always in a bad way. Studies have shown that this level of self-esteem often translates into greater self-confidence, which can be an incredibly valuable asset on the job. Why the boost? Experts credit the rise in self-esteem to helicopter parents who encouraged the importance of feeling good about oneself.

  18. They may end up more productive.

    Technology will undoubtedly play a big role in the future productivity of Millennials, but other, larger trends are also at play, too. Millennials are shifting away from suburban living into denser urban living, which economic research shows should have a big effect on productivity. Studies show that doubling a community’s population density increases productivity by between 6 and 28%. Why? Apart from the massive time suck of commuting, worker output is determined not only by individual talents but also the ability to access the ideas and talents of others. The more brainpower Millennials surround themselves with, the greater odds that two smart, talented people will end up working together.

  19. As a whole, Millennials are extremely optimistic.

    Despite the persistently negative press that Millennials’ situation gets, studies show that most in this group are actually pretty optimistic. According to Pew research, Millennials are actually slightly more optimistic about their future earning potential today than they were before the recession hit. Seventy-five percent of those who say they don’t have enough income now believe they will in the future, and 60% believe that their children will be better off than they were. Of course, they’re not entirely delusional about their prospects, with many believing that they themselves won’t be better off than their parents.

  20. They’re more likely to read.

    Think young adults today are too busy with their smartphones and social networks to read? The stats say otherwise. A recent Pew study found that 16- to 29-year-olds are reading more than the average American, with 83% having read a book in the past year. Just 70% of the general population can say the same. What’s more, this same demographic was also more likely to make use of the public library, with 60% heading to a public facility to do research or check out books over the past year. Of course, Millennials didn’t completely lose their tech-savvy reputation: they were also more likely to read e-books than any other group.

Posted on 11/14/12 | by Staff Writers | in Resources | No Comments »

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