Millenials face different economy and education than grandparents

The differences between millenials and their grandparents are far and wide, but not all bad. (Flickr / CC Danny Molyneux).

Christine Tippett
Life Reporter

Millennials are lazy. Millennials are spoiled.

It’s been said a million times before.

But a new report highlights generational differences between millennials and their grandparents 50 years ago, and experts say it’s not all bad.

The Pew Research Center published a report last month based on a U.S. Government Current Population Survey that compared millennials aged 18 to 33 with the so-called silent generation aged 69 to 84.

The survey polled around 75,000 American households in March 2014 and findings show that today’s young adults are much better educated than their grandparents’ generation. The report also said employment rates show that millennials have entered the labour force during tough times.

Men in the Gen X (aged 34 to 49), boomer (aged 50 to 68), and silent generations all had an employment rate of 78 per cent when they were between the ages of 18 and 33. The rate drops to 68 per cent among millennial men.

Humber Counsellor Liz Sokol said the pressure to find a job after graduation in a bad economy has a big impact on students.

“There’s a lot of fear,” she said. “There’s a lot of anxiety.

“It’s not unheard for a student who’s very close to finishing (school) to absolutely lose every bit of motivation and interest in finishing their program,” Sokol said. “It has everything to do with the fact they’re about to graduate and there’s not a lot of good news.”

The report also found that millennials today are more likely to postpone marriage than their grandparent’s generation. A typical American woman married at age 21 in 1963 and a typical man married at 23. In 2014, those ages rose to 27 for women and 29 for men.

“When asked the reasons that they have not gotten married, 29 per cent said they are not financially prepared… and an additional 26 per cent say that they are too young and not ready to settle down,” said lead authors Eileen Patten and Richard Fry.

Sean Lyons, an inter-generational expert and assistant professor at the University of Guelph said this change could be partially attributed to the requirement for advanced education, which means that people don’t start their adult lives until their late 20s at the earliest, he said in an email interview.

“Census data show that young people today are getting married later, having children later, and are living at home with their parents for much longer than was the case in the past,” said Lyons..

Millennials are often viewed in a negative light, and Lyons said it is because there has been a mixture of “heightened expectations and crushing reality.”

Millennials were given great hope they would be “the next great generation” when they were younger, Lyons said.

“The turbulent economy and heightened requirement for education, along with the crippling student debt that many students face, has made things difficult for young people getting established today,” he said.

First year Humber Human Resources Management student Meredith Neufeld agrees.

“I think these shifts happen in every generation, and we’ll probably say the same things about our kids one day. But I think they happen because the issues each generation has to face are always going to be different,” she said.

Neufeld said older generations describe younger generations as spoiled and say they complain too much.

“But things are way different for us than they were for them,” said Neufeld.

Every generation is given a “bad rap” for one reason or another, Lyons said.

“I think it’s good advice for young people to not take the criticisms too seriously and to not let them affect their perspectives,” said Lyons.

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