Who Are the Millennials? A Historical Perspective
Millennials get a lot of ribbing from older generations who find them pampered and precious. But the truth is, this generation, which was born from around 1982 to around 2002, is a high-achieving bunch who look for balance in life and aren’t afraid to think for themselves, according to a recent Pew Research study.1
Millennials are very different from their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. They’re the most politically progressive generation modern America has ever seen. They’re overwhelmingly dedicated to social justice, and they’re self-aware.
Just 21 percent of millennials are married, compared with twice that many of their parents’ generation at the same stage in life. They’re staying single and childless longer and enjoy a tight community of friends and a close relationship with their immediate family. They prefer purposeful, meaningful work and a healthy balance between their career and personal life. They tend to have very strongly held values and a weaker attachment to material things than older generations. They’re known for being highly collaborative and creative and for thinking outside the box.
It’s no wonder, then, that millennials are going a long way toward reducing the high prevalence of drug abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, violent crime, suicide and low SAT scores that marked the coming-of-age of their baby boomer grandparents. The baby boomers were born between the end of World War II and the advent of birth control pills in the early 1960s. They got married young and often started families before they were entirely ready. Their generation indelibly shaped the millennials in many ways.
Generation X: A Closer Look at Mom and Dad
Generation X, which was born to the boomers between roughly 1965 and 1984, is the generation of the latchkey kid. In general terms, Gen Xers were largely left to their own devices and grew up without a lot of parental supervision or adult intervention. They spent free time roaming their neighborhoods in unsupervised packs from dawn to dusk. They didn’t wear bike helmets or seat belts. If they wanted to play baseball or soccer, they did it in backyards and empty fields, not after-school programs and city leagues. Their baby boomer parents were largely hands-off except for when it came to administering spankings.
Somehow, Generation X survived their childhood. When it was their turn to have kids, they took parenting far more personally and seriously than their parents did. The child once again became revered in American society. Abortion rates went down, divorce rates declined, smoking in the house and spanking your child became taboo, and the rampant drug use that started with the boomers began a slow, steady decline.
Enter the Millennials
When millennials were born to Gen X starting in…
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