A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center focuses on Millennials in Adulthood – the group of Americans aged 18-33 (excluding the teens in this category). The byline, Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends, just scratches the surface of the findings which were based on comparisons with my peer group, The Gen Xers (ages 34 to 49); Baby Boomers (folks 50 to 68); and the 69 to 86 year olds ironically titled the Silent Generation.
On the plus side the study shows that Millennials are the most racially heterogeneous generation in American history. About 43% of them are non-white, and that number is expected to increase over time. Now for the downside: The Millennials get the gold for the highest rate of poverty, unemployment and lower levels of wealth & personal income than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers had at the same stage of their life cycles. It’s no shock that Gen Yers have a rather low level of social trust.
The report claims, in response to the following query, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people,” just 19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents and 40% of Boomers. Interestingly enough, the report suggests that their racial diversity may partly explain the decrease of social trust citing a 2007 Pew Research Center study that claimed non-whites and low-income adults had lower levels of social trust than other groups… Despite their lack of trust in “the system”, Millennials appear more optimistic than their predecessors when considering the fate of the U.S.A. as well as their financial futures. Apparently, 49% of Millennial’s think the country is on the come up, while only 42% of Gen Xers, 44% of Boomers and 39% of Silents hold similar points of view.
While gay folks are fighting for the simple right to wed, the study shows that many Millennials have either taken the institution for granted – or given up on it altogether.
Surprise, surprise – the survey says Millennials are by far the most Facebook-friendly generation. Statistically speaking, they also lead the way in the support for LGBTQ rights – however the same can’t be said of their commitment to patriotism, religion and environmental rights.
Peep Pew Social Trends for more findings on the vanguard generation.