Millennial life: How young adulthood today compares with prior generations Essay

Over the past 50 years – from Silent Generation’s young adulthood to that particular of Millennials today – the United States has encountered large social and societal shifts. Now that the youngest Millennials are adults, how can they compare with those who were how old they are in generations that came before them?

As a whole, they’re better educated – one factor tied to work and financial well-being – but there is however a sharp divide involving the economic fortunes of the who've an university education and people whom don’t.

Millennials have brought more racial and cultural variety to United states society. And Millennial females, like Generation X ladies, will be involved in the nation’s workforce than previous generations.

Compared with previous generations, Millennials – those many years 22 to 37 in 2018 – are delaying or foregoing marriage and have now been significantly slower in forming their own households. Also, they are more prone to be living at home with their moms and dads, as well as for longer stretches.

And Millennials are now actually the second-largest generation in U.S. electorate (after Baby Boomers), a fact that continues to contour the country’s politics offered their Democratic leanings than older generations.

Those are regarding the broad shots which have emerged from Pew analysis Center’s work with Millennials in the last couple of years. Since the youngest Millennials are in their 20s, we have done a thorough revision of our prior demographic work with generations. Here you will find the details.


Today’s young adults are better educated than their grand-parents, as the share of teenagers with a bachelor’s degree or higher has steadily climbed since 1968. Among Millennials, around four-in-ten (39percent) of those ages 25 to 37 have actually a bachelor’s degree or higher, in contrast to just 15percent of this Silent Generation, approximately a quarter of Baby Boomers and about three-in-ten Gen Xers (29%) when they were exactly the same age.

Gains in academic attainment have already been specially steep for women. Among females of the Silent Generation, only 11per cent had acquired about a bachelor’s degree once they had been young (ages 25 to 37 in 1968). Millennial women are about four times (43per cent) as likely as their Silent predecessors to possess finished as much education at the exact same age. Millennial guys may also be better educated than their predecessors. About one-third of Millennial males (36%) have at the very least a bachelor’s degree, almost double the share of Silent Generation males (19%) when they were many years 25 to 37.

While academic attainment has steadily increased for people over the past five decades, the share of Millennial women with a bachelor’s level is currently more than that of males – a reversal through the Silent Generation and Boomers. Gen X females were the first to ever outpace guys with regards to training, with a 3-percentage-point benefit over Gen X men in 2001. Before that, belated Boomer males in 1989 had a 2-point advantage over Boomer ladies.


Boomer females surged into the workforce as young adults, setting the phase for more Gen X and Millennial women to check out suit. In 1966, whenever Silent Generation women were ages 22 through 37, a majority (58per cent) are not playing the labor pool while 40% had been used. For Millennial females now, 72percent are utilized while simply a quarter aren't inside work force. Boomer women were the turning point. As early as 1985, more young Boomer females were employed (66%) than weren't in work force (28per cent).

And despite a track record of task hopping, Millennial employees are just as prone to stick to their companies as Gen X employees had been once they had been similar age. Approximately eight-in-ten all of Millennials ages 22 to 37 in 2018 (79per cent) and Gen Xers the exact same age in 2002 (77percent) reported doing work for their present company about 13 months. Approximately half of both teams stated they’d been with their boss for at the least 5 years.

Definitely, the economy varied for every generation. As the Great Recession impacted Us americans broadly, it created a particularly challenging work market for Millennials entering the workforce. The jobless price ended up being especially high for America’s youngest grownups into the years right after the recession, a reality that would influence Millennials’ future earnings and wealth.

Earnings and wealth

The financial well-being of Millennials is complicated. The individual earnings for young employees have actually remained mostly flat over the past 50 years. But this belies a notably large gap in earnings between Millennials who have a college training and those who don’t. Similarly, the household earnings trends for young adults markedly diverge by education. So far as home wide range, Millennials appear to have accumulated somewhat lower than older generations had on same age.

Millennials with a bachelor’s level or more and a full-time task had median yearly earnings valued at $56,000 in 2018, roughly equal to those of college-educated Generation X employees in 2001. However for Millennials with a few university or less, annual profits had been lower than their counterparts in previous generations. As an example, Millennial workers with university education reported making $36,000, less than the $38,900 very early Baby Boomer workers made during the same age in 1982. The pattern is similar for all those young adults whom never attended university.

Millennials in 2018 had a median household income of approximately $71,400, much like compared to Gen X young adults ($70,700) in 2001. (This analysis is in 2017 bucks and is modified for household size. In addition, household earnings includes the wages for the young adult, plus the earnings of anyone else staying in the household.)

The growing space by training is more obvious whenever looking at yearly home earnings. For households headed by Millennials ages 25 to 37 in 2018, the median adjusted household earnings ended up being about $105,300 for the people with a bachelor’s level or more, roughly $56,000 greater than that of households headed by senior school graduates. The median household income difference by training for previous generations ranged from $41,200 for late Boomers to $19,700 the Silent Generation when they had been young.

While teenagers generally would not have a great deal accumulated wealth, Millennials have actually slightly less wealth than Boomers did at same age. The median net worth of households headed by Millennials (many years 20 to 35 in 2016) was about $12,500 in 2016, compared with $20,700 for households headed by Boomers the same age in 1983. Median net worth of Gen X households within same age was about $15,100.

This modest huge difference in wealth could be partly caused by variations in debt by generation. Compared with previous generations, more Millennials have outstanding pupil debt, together with level of it they owe is often greater. The share of young adult households with any student financial obligation doubled from 1998 (whenever Gen Xers had been many years 20 to 35) to 2016 (when Millennials had been that age). In addition, the median quantity of financial obligation had been nearly 50% greater for Millennials with outstanding student debt ($19,000) than for Gen X debt holders if they had been young ($12,800).


Millennials, hit hard by the truly amazing Recession, have already been somewhat slow in developing unique households than past generations. They’re more likely to are now living in their parents’ home and more prone to be in the home for longer stretches. In 2018, 15per cent of Millennials (many years 25 to 37) were surviving in their parents’ home. This is nearly double the share of very early Boomers and Silents (8percent each) and 6 portion points higher than Gen Xers who did when they certainly were the same age.

The rise in teenagers living at home is very prominent the type of with lower training. Millennials whom never ever went to university had been twice as likely as those with a bachelor’s level or more to reside along with their parents (20percent vs. 10%). This space had been narrower or nonexistent in past generations. Approximately equal stocks of Silents (about 7per cent each) lived inside their parents’ home if they had been ages 25 to 37, aside from academic attainment.

Millennials may also be moving less than previous generations of teenagers. About one-in-six Millennials ages 25 to 37 (16percent) have actually moved before 12 months. For previous generations on same age, roughly a quarter had.


On the complete, Millennials are starting families later than their counterparts in previous generations. Just below half (46%) of Millennials ages 25 to 37 are married, a steep fall through the 83per cent of Silents have been married in 1968. The share of 25- to 37-year-olds who had been hitched steadily dropped for every succeeding generation, from 67percent of early Boomers to 57per cent of Gen Xers. This simply reflects broader societal changes toward marrying later in life. In 1968, the normal United states girl first hitched at age 21 as well as the typical American guy first wed at 23. Today, those numbers have climbed to 28 for women and 30 for men.

But it’s only a few about delayed wedding. The share of grownups with never ever married is increasing with every successive generation. If present habits carry on, approximately one-in-four of today’s young adults will have never hitched by the time they reach their mid-40s to very early 50s – an archive high share.

In prior generations, those many years 25 to 37 whose greatest degree of training ended up being a top school diploma were more likely than those with a bachelor’s level or more to be married. Gen Xers reversed this trend, and divide widened among Millennials. Four-in-ten Millennials with only a higher school diploma (40per cent) are married, in contrast to 53% of Millennials with at the very least a bachelor’s degree. In contrast, 86percent of Silent Generation highschool graduates were hitched in 1968 versus 81percent of Silents with a bachelor’s degree or more.

Millennial women are also waiting longer to be parents than prior generations did. In 2016, 48per cent of Millennial ladies (many years 20 to 35 during the time) had been mothers. When Generation X women had been equivalent age in 2000, 57per cent had been currently moms, just like the share of Boomer females (58percent) in 1984. Nevertheless, Millennial women now account for most yearly U.S. births, and more than 17 million Millennial females have grown to be mothers.


Younger generations (Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z) now constitute a clear most of America’s voting-eligible population. As of November 2018, almost six-in-ten grownups eligible to vote (59percent) were from of those three generations, with Boomers and older generations getting back together one other 41%.

However, adults have actually historically been less likely to want to vote than their older counterparts, and these younger generations have actually followed that exact same pattern, turning away to vote at reduced prices than older generations in present elections.

Into the 2016 election, Millennials and Gen Xers cast more votes than Boomers and older generations, offering the younger generations a slight majority of total votes cast. However, higher shares of Silent/Greatest generation qualified voters (70per cent) and Boomers (69per cent) reported voting in the 2016 election compared with Gen X (63%) and Millennial (51percent) eligible voters. Moving forward, Millennial turnout may increase as this generation grows older.

Generational variations in governmental attitudes and partisan affiliation are since wide as they have been around in years. Among subscribed voters, 59per cent of Millennials affiliate with all the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, in contrast to approximately half of Boomers and Gen Xers (48% each) and 43percent of this Silent Generation. With this divide comes generational distinctions on particular issue areas, from views of racial discrimination and immigration to foreign policy as well as the scope of government.

Population change plus the future

By 2019, Millennials are projected to number 73 million, overtaking middle-agers once the largest living adult generation. Although a lot more births underlie the infant Boom generation, Millennials will outnumber Boomers in part because immigration was boosting their figures.

Millennials are bringing more racial and cultural variety. Once the Silent Generation was young (ages 22 to 37), 84percent were non-Hispanic white. For Millennials, the share is simply 55per cent. This change is driven partly by the growing amount of Hispanic and Asian immigrants, whose ranks have increased since the Boomer generation. The increased prevalence of interracial marriage and variations in fertility habits also have contributed toward nation’s moving racial and cultural makeup.

Searching ahead at the next generation, early benchmarks show Generation Z (those many years 6 to 21 in 2018) is on track to be the nation’s most diverse and best-educated generation yet. Almost half (48per cent) are racial or cultural minorities. And while most are still in K-12 schools, the oldest Gen Zers are searching for university at a greater price than even Millennials had been at their age. Early indications are that their viewpoints on issues resemble those of Millennials.

Of course, Gen Z remains really young that can be shaped by future not known events. But Pew Research Center looks ahead to spending the next few years studying life for this new generation since it gets in adulthood.

All pictures via Getty Images

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