New Study—Millennials Speak their Minds!

It’s only a matter of time. The massive Millennial generation born between 1980 and 2002, is waking up, and waiting for its moment to change the political landscape of America.

Popular notions, many of them negative, have been circulating in leading newspapers and online media everywhere over the past few years. I’ve been following the discussion as well, and wrote about them in recent blogs, here and here.

Attention and controversy have followed the Millennials, ever since they emerged as the biggest population group in American history.

Unprovoked and mean jabs at the Millennials

People haven’t held back, in their assessment of this group, concluding, with little proof, that this generation has the following characteristics:

–Millennials are narcissistic, demanding, and spoiled.

–Millennials spend all of their money on frivolous things like lattes, avocados, and expensive iphones.

–Millennials are unfriendly and self-absorbed, thinking only of themselves.

–Millennials are obsessed with social media.

It’s really not surprising that they are examined, discussed, reviled, and even feared. In America alone, they now number more than 75 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers, and they continue to grow as young immigrants expand their ranks. By 2025, they will make up the majority of the workforce.

In all fairness, it’s possible that some of the above perceptions may be earned. Baby Boomer and Generation X parents have been indulgent parents, providing Millennials with an enviable level of abundance and care, possibly contributing to a feeling of entitlement.

Political changes alter the landscape

But things are different now. Young people have felt the sting of the Trump influence. They have observed members of their generation treated as political pawns (DACA) and dispensable objects (#MeToo).

Millennials who have been out in the world for a few years, have learned that they will earn less than their parents, that it’s tougher to borrow money, that home prices are exorbitant, and that pension benefits are non-existent. They have stood by as their education became less accessible, their work less fruitful, and their political rights less assured.

It might be more accurate, at this point in time, to make the following observations, as did Shama Hyder, in a 2014 article she wrote for Forbes, “Here’s What You Need to Know About Millennials”.

–Millennials aren’t narcissistic, they are only into self-expression.

–Millennials don’t have money because the generation before them has taken all of the jobs.

–Millennials are the most racially and diverse generation ever, with a huge tolerance.

–Millennials are highly skilled technologically, because they need to be.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that recent political marches have been attended by droves of young people, many of them of inter-racial descent.

Pundits are noticing their unrest, and are finally asking them what they think, first hand. Their responses may concern you, and give you pause.

It’s true—Millennials do think differently

In a new 2018 survey of racially diverse American adults, conducted by Professor Cathy J. Cohen at the University of Chicago, Millennials revealed attitudes and values that may have a profound effect on politics and the way things are run for many years to come.

A meta description of the study, published in NBC News, summarized the main points:

“The GenForward Survey is the first of its kind—a nationally representative survey of over 1,750 young adults ages 18-34 conducted bimonthly that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity influence how young adults or Millennials experience and think about the world.

The use of polls and surveys to ascertain public opinion is critical in today’s political discourse. While the focus on voter preferences between parties, candidates, and policies is vital, what is also important is knowledge and insights into the ways that increased polarization and shifts in political rhetoric have impacted young people. The best way to decipher these changes is through polls and surveys.”

Out of 18 questions, here are the responses that stand out:

Strongly Disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling job as president:

African-Americans 60

Asian Americans 47

Latinxs 53

Whites 40

All Adults 46

Strongly unfavorable view of the Republican party:

African-Americans 48

Asian Americans 46

Latinxs 36

Whites 34

All Adults 37

Did not vote in the 2016 Presidential election:

African-Americans: 30

Asian Americans 37

Latinxs: 56

Whites: 27

All Adults 34

Very optimistic about personal future:

African-Americans 30

Asian Americans 15

Latinxs 14

Whites 22

All Adults 21

Somewhat optimistic about personal future:

African-Americans 24

Asian Americans 31

Latinxs 44

Whites 40

All Adults 38

These numbers are significant, and suggest that racially diverse youth are extremely dissatisfied with how events have unfolded in America since the election of President Trump. It also notes that their voting record for that election, willingly offered up, was dismal. Yet in spite of many other negative responses in the survey, they remain optimistic. This suggests a hopeful outcome for the future.

In summary, the Millennials are the most self-expressive, technologically skilled, diverse, and connected generation ever. And although previous generations may have difficulty understanding and accepting them, they are the future—they will determine what lies ahead for America, and quite likely, for the rest of us.

 

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19 Responses to New Study—Millennials Speak their Minds!

  1. How do they feel about the national debt? They will be more affected by it than we will be —- the present guess is the deficit will be about a trillion dollars this year.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I’ve included the link to the questionnaire in the article, so you can scrutinize it—but I see that Q10 does refer to the national debt, and the result comes up with a low rating in terms of importance, only (2%) with other concerns, like racism, getting a much higher rating. Thanks for this, CM!

  2. tammy j says:

    this is very interesting Diane! and important too.
    I’ve also been reading a bit about them from various articles.
    they probably will have to be creative in finding careers in the near future with the advancement of the robotics age and everything computerized and mechanized.
    AND as monk says with the national debt it might be easy for them to feel “what’s the use?” but then I’m looking at it the “old way” with old eyes. LOL!
    I don’t think one generation should ever blame another even though both sides do it.
    the techno age is what they know best and feel comfortable with so my bet is on them!
    we have a millennial in our family. he will be 19 this summer.
    and of course his Auntie Tam thinks he’s wonderful in every way. LOL.
    at 4 he could log onto my computer and was more comfortable and adept with it than I was! and that’s not that unusual. it’s incredible really. but it’s just their world now.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I know, Tammy, I’m so boggle-eyed at the way little children, even at 3 like my tiny niece, can handle an iphone! When I look back at how hard it was to learn to type out my report cards on the computer during the 1980s, I realize what a different landscape it was for us! But yet, no matter how tech-savvy the Millennials are, they may still have trouble being employed in the future!

  3. Ann Oxrieder says:

    We have to get them to vote.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I’m afraid there is no assurance of that, Ann, since some parties may not want this to happen! I believe there are ways to inhibit votes you do not want, even in a democracy!

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Hello Dr. Rin, Great question! If you go back to the link I provided (2018 Survey), you will see a line in small print on the cover page, referring to the results, which are in percentages. More information about the methodology is provided on the last two pages. I hope this answers your question—I know that you, as a scientist, would be interested! Thanks for this!

  4. Very interesting information! I am so glad you brought it to our attention. But I was confused about the meaning of the numbers you listed as Millennials’ responses to the 18 questions. Were these numbers percentages of the respondents? Or were they the raw numbers of respondents who answered “yes” to the item? Or some other quantity?

  5. Clive says:

    Some interesting parallels here with the way the UK is going. Our Millenials are feeling that their future has been taken away from them by older generations who themselves are self-interested. The spirit of protest and resistance is growing here, too.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Young people will need to be involved, if they wish to gain their rights, and any power at all in the coming years. So if demonstrations and protest is the way they choose, then so be it. In the USA, particularly, they will have to work hard, and stand together in order not to allow their futures to be eroded. Thanks, Clive, for your thoughts.

  6. Big John says:

    I have to admit that I’m not to well up on the subject of ‘Millennials’, but then again I was born in 1939. When it comes to younger generations here in the UK, most of the attention seems to be on the ‘snowflakes’ !

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I hate to encourage labeling, but the Millennials are also frequently referred to as ‘snowflakes’. LOL So I guess sentiments about them are pretty much the same on both sides of the pond!

  7. I can’t comment – but I think parts of the arguments put forward by your researchers – are quite different to the way things are here in New Zealand. It’s not an area, I know much about, just snippets from other family/friends – and it’s not something that peeks my interest (apologies)

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