By now, it isn’t news that some people sure love to hate on millennials. But maybe what’s been interpreted by some folks as entitlement, adversity to commitment, and aimlessness in Gen Y are simply signs of a major split in core values.
A new report published in April by the U.S. Census Bureau seems to support that view. The bureau compiled data about relationships, education, and finances for modern Americans aged 18 to 34, then compared it with those of the same age in 1975 — and based on the results, it’s no surprise older generations often have a hard time understanding millennials.
According to the report, a significant majority of today’s young Americans are prioritizing education and economic advancement above marriage and children, if they’re choosing to pursue family life at all. At 55 percent, more than half of those surveyed don’t believe marrying and having kids is actually crucial to adulthood.
Ultimately, however, the bulk of millennials are still choosing to marry, though much later in life than prior generations. In 1975, for instance, 80 percent of people were married by age 30, whereas today that age has changed to 45. But that doesn’t mean today’s young people aren’t still shacking up — over the last 40 years, the number of young, unmarried couples living together has increased by more than 12 times, making it “the fastest growing living arrangement among young adults,” the report said.
Another living arrangement that’s surged in popularity since the 1970s’ set is for young people to stay at home with their parents. In fact, according to the report, there are now "more young people living with their parents than in any other arrangement,” and about 1 in 3 of all 18 to 34 year olds rely on their parents for some form of financial assistance.
While this may seem like a backwards step in maturity to some, one group that’s consistently made strides in gaining independence and financial acumen is young women. From the 1970s to today, the percentage of women aged 25 to 34 in the workforce has grown from just under one-half to more than two-thirds, with the median income rising from $23,000 to $29,000. Despite that growth, though, the report noted that the median income for young women today is still $11,000 less than that of young men.
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