The past fifty years have seen some major changes in everything from social interaction, to cultural norms, to political patterns. That said, the current generation of young adults, Millennials, have thus far had quite a different set of life experiences than did their predecessors. How does Millennial adulthood compare with that of Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, keep reading to find out…
When talking about educational levels of the various generations, for the most part, many would say that the current generation of young adults is better educated than previous generations had been. Among Millennials, approximately 40% hold a bachelors—those numbers for Generation X hover right around thirty percent at the same age, and Baby Boomers, roughly 25%.
This educational gain is particularly noteworthy among women. Millennials are four times more likely to have earned their degrees versus women of older generations. And with the men, the number of degree holders in some cases doubles those of their predecessors.
Within the context of the Millennial generation itself, more women have a bachelor's than do men. This is a sharp reversal from the Baby Boomer generation for instance. Gen-Xer women did out-earn men in the bachelor's category but not by as high numbers as has been seen with the Millennials.
Baby Boomer women did start to set the trend for women entering the workforce. From there, the Gen-X women expanded the efforts and finally, Millennial women have numbers that surpass all previous generations when it comes to women in the workplace. Over 70% of Millennial women are employed with just a quarter not working. This though again, can be attributed to the pioneering advancements of the Boomer women in this category.
In light of the events of 2008 and 2009, Millennials are slower to pull the trigger on establishing a household. Many are likely to reside with their parents for longer periods versus those of previous generations. Last year, approximately 15% of Millennial adults were staying with parents. Compared to Gen-Xers who lived with parents into young adulthood this number is nearly double.
The number living with parents seems to coincide with the education level. Those who did not attend college tend to stay in the parental home longer than those with a degree. Millennials also tend to refrain from moving longer than those of earlier generations. For Millennials ages 25-35, only about one in six have moved over the past year; whereas with prior generations that number has been as high as one quarter.
Trends seem to suggest that Millennials start families later than older generations did. In that 25 to 35 age range, less than half are currently married. Looking at Gen-Xers and Boomers those numbers are 57% and 67% respectively. This could point to a shift on several fronts, from socio-economic to cultural. In the year 1968, typical marrying ages were 21 and 23 for women and men. Today those ages are more likely to be 28 and 30.
The number of those who've never been married is also increasing year by year. According to current patterns, soon it will be common for 1 in four adults to still be single into their forties and potentially even fifties.
In older generations, it seemed as though those with only a high school diploma were more likely to marry than those who'd earned a college degree. However, Generation X reversed this—and this reversal continues with Millennials. While 40% of those with a high school degree are married, more than 50% of those with bachelors are married.
The age of motherhood is also increasing. In 2016, just under fifty percent of Millennial women ages 20 to 35 were mothers. Gen-Xers during this same age range saw more than 55% become mothers. And for Boomers, that number hovered right around 58%. That said, Millennial women do currently account for more than 17 million mothers.
The younger Generations have overtaken the older to represent the largest block of eligible voters—this includes Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. Last year 60% of the voting population came from these 3 groups. Boomers and beyond accounted for just over forty percent.
Keep in mind however that younger voters tend to turn out less than older voters. This pattern persists. And Millennial voting rates have historically been lower than those of the older generations as seen in recent elections.
Looking at 2016, Millennials together with Gen Xers did cast more votes than Boomers and older generations. But the greatest percentage of eligible voters came from the Boomer generation. Millennial turn out is predicted to increase as the generation ages.
Population changes moving forward
By the end of this year, it's projected that Millennials will overtake the Baby Boomers as far as the largest number of adults living today. In part, this is due to immigration, but also the number of births seen within the Millennials, especially in the past decade.
Millennials also are far more diverse than previous generations. Again, in light of the number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants, as well as the number of interracial marriages, the Millennials are driving a definitive shift in the country's racial and ethnic makeup.
If we start to look at trends among the members of Generation Z—those currently 7 to 22—we see even more diversity ahead. Not to mention, their educational levels are expected to surpass even those of the Millennials. Many members of Gen Z are still in school, though their college enrollment numbers are among the highest yet seen in this nation. As far as outlook, attitudes, and opinions, those of Gen Z seem to be closely aligned with the Millennial generation.
Gen Z is young yet. There is still a great deal ahead to research and track as the next generation enters its phase of young adulthood. We don't know what their approach to family, employment and housing will be as they are for the most part still in school—but it'll certainly be interesting to find out.