They're Here!

Story by Dawn Bonker.  Graphic illustrations by Ryan Tolentino.

1981-2003 millennials (generation Y)

Morley Winograd’s back hurt, and the stylish little chair at the head of the classroom conference table wasn’t helping. So he headed for a more comfortable and unoccupied captain’s chair at the other end of the room. “I’ll just sit in the back,” Winograd said. Typical silent generation solution.

In a flash, students rose and offered their seats. Chairs were rearranged. Typical millennial generation solution.

“That’s so millennial; you guys are polite,” said Michael D. Hais, a pollster and Winograd’s co-author of the book Millennial Momentum. The two spoke with Chapman University students during a visit to Joel Kotkin’s Presidential Fellow Seminar “A History of the Future for Commerce.”

Lots of scholars think millennials will do big things, like fix the economy, elect a woman president, blur the color lines, poke holes in the 9-to-5 tradition and still find time to politely help their elders master the latest iPhone upgrade.

Millennials are polite, yes, but in the decades to come this crew is also going to rattle the cages, shake the timbers and be the straw that stirs the cultural, political and economic drink. They’re collaborative, ethnically diverse, socially tolerant and tech savvy. Like their great-grandparents in the G.I. generation (a.k.a. greatest generation), they’re optimistic and dedicated to the common good. Millennials can move mountains with a tweet, condemn a politician overnight with a social media scolding and shame corporations with a boycott that can go viral within hours.

“Historically, I think you may actually be one of the most disruptive forces since the invention of the printing press,” Hais said.

At 77 million strong, the millennials are the biggest brood to ever roll onto the American scene, bigger even than the almighty baby boomers. (Someone’s going to break that news to the boomers, right?) Kotkin, a futurist, author and director of Chapman’s Center for Demographics and Policy, notes that millennials are still young and their traits changeable. Still, as some in this generation enter college while others transition to working lives and leadership positions in society, it’s a good time to take a peek at the new kids on the cultural block. On these pages we highlight some telling statistics, many drawn from the social science and behavioral research of Chapman scholars.

21.6 million millennials lived in their parents’ home in 2012.

Not Home Alone

Good thing baby boomers built big houses. In 2012, 63 percent of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70 percent of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007. A record total of 21.6 million millennials lived in their parents’ home in 2012.

Source: Pew Social & Demographic Trends

What’s that Ticking Sound?

The most educated generation in American history missed out on a big fact-of-life lesson – the rate at which their biological clocks are ticking. A study of university-aged adults who want to have children revealed that they overestimate the amount of time they have to accomplish that. A study receiving international attention revealed that 67 percent of women and 81 percent of men believe female fertility doesn’t decline until after age 40. In fact, slight declines begin at age 28, and fertility takes a steep dive from 35 to 39. Those surveyed also placed too much confidence in fertility treatments, with most believing that in vitro fertilization is successful 40 to 100 percent of the time. The actual success rate is 30 percent.

Source: Brennan Peterson, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Crean School of Health and Life Science, in the study Fertility Awareness and Parenting Intentions of U.S. Undergraduate Students.

That’s No Alien, That’s My Mom!

1 in 5 millennials has an immigrant parent.

Millennials overwhelming support reforming immigration laws that will create a path to citizenship. That friendlier attitude about immigration equals a huge resource in human capital, futurist Joel Kotkin writes in his research report “The Rise of Post-Familialism: Humanity’s Future?” prepared by Chapman’s Center for Demographics and Policy. “Migrants and their offspring have accounted for one-third of the nation’s population growth over the past three decades,” Kotkin says. “The newcomers have also become a critical component of the country’s entrepreneurial and innovation culture.”

Just Like Grandpa

Keep the wallets handy, guys. Just 23 percent of heterosexual adults 18 to 25 report that dating expenses are shared, leaving men to foot the bill most of the time. And it only changes slightly by about the fourth month of dating.

Source: David Frederick, Ph.D., Crean School of Health and Life Science, in a paper titled Following versus Challenging Conventional Gender Norms.

Madam President

“Being a member of generation X myself, I think we’re still a little ways away from it (a woman president),” says Chapman political science professor Lori Cox Han, Ph.D., who has published extensively on the subject of women in politics.

Boomer and generation X women will continue to do well in legislative roles, but the executive office is still perceived as a man’s job, she says. She predicts millennials will change it up. “There seems to be a broader expectation of equality in this generation,” she says. “It’s not like previous generations didn’t get this. But now there’s this sense that things will be fair.”

Pillow Talk

When the alarm is in the phone, of course the phone stays close. Eighty-three percent of millennials have slept with their cell phones or placed them right next to their beds when they sleep, as compared to 50 percent of baby boomers.

Source: Pew Social & Demographic Trends

1 in 4 reports being affiliated with any religion.

Pray here, there, everywhere… except church

Millennials pray about as often as their elders did in their youth, but as a generation only 1 in 4 reports being affiliated with any religion. It’s the least church-going generation in modern times.

Source: Pew Social & Demographic Trends

 

75% of young adults ages 18 to 29 share on Facebook happy life events like new jobs, engagements and raises.Like It … or Not

Young adults 18 to 29 probably aren’t oversharing life details as much as their elders might think. Some 80 percent said they would not share on Facebook news of their firing or being turned down for a job. Good news gets the green light, though. Three-quarters said they would share happy life events like new jobs, engagements and raises. No wonder everything seems cheery on Facebook.

Source:  A study conducted by undergraduate students in the communications studies senior capstone course taught by Jennifer Bevan, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Communication Studies.

Social Butterflies

Despite their parents’ encroachment on Facebook, millennials are still far more likely than any age group to have a profile on a social networking site. Seventy-five percent have a profile on a site, while just 30 percent of baby boomers do.

Source: Pew Social & Demographic Trends

We’ve Seen Their Type Before

According to the pattern of cycles, it’s time for another civic generation. Throughout U.S. history generations rise from crisis to build afresh, with collaboration and optimism. A collective memory of 9/11, protracted wars and the Great Recession mean that millennials have this base covered.

Few have suffered as much as members of the G.I. generation, who came through the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust. So what advice does the previous civic generation have for the batch just arriving?

“Change is the name of the game for your future. You’re going to have to drop what you’re doing if it’s not making any progress and start something new that you might like to do. Read the editorials in the different newspapers. Good music is a stabilizer. I like Elvis Presley and Rachmaninoff.”

Libby Pankey, 96
Longtime friend of Chapman University,
wife of the late Trustee Edgar Pankey

“Be very aware that life or fate can change things for you from one moment to the next. Not even one day to the next. Remain as flexible as possible. It happened to me many times and sometimes you’re lucky and you choose the right solution and sometimes you don’t and you have to try again.”

Actor Curt Lowens, 88
Holocaust survivor, rescuer and Resistance fighter;
friend of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education

“Learn to trust each other. If you can’t trust your colleagues, whatever project you’re working on will suffer.”

Betty Bartley, 93
former editor of Chapman Quarterly, precursor to Chapman Magazine, and publicist for World Campus Afloat, now Semester at Sea

“Remember two words and avoid them: hate and jealousy. Hate brings killing and jealousy brings killing. Try to be a human being, and if you see something that is not good, don’t run toward it, run away from it.”

Cantor Leopold Szneer, 92
friend of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education

Feeling Millennial?

As part of its Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next,
the Pew Research Center posted the 14-question quiz How Millennial Are You?