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The five decades of the past saw the face of the earth change in a significant way than the times that preceded it in the history of humankind. During this period, the millennial generation experienced a drastic shift in the society and culture of the country. Millennials are found to differ significantly from their grandparents in a large number of ways. For instance, the new generation is found more detached from politics, religion, marriage, and military when compared to their grandparents. The country has also seen a remarkable change in its racial and ethnic composition. College enrollment spiked up sharply, and the country saw more numbers of women entering the workforce.
The contrast between the generations is an important study to guide the policies of the state. Paul Taylor from Pew Research Center championed a book under the title “The Next America” that extensively considers the public opinion surveys and demographic data to bring out the contrasts between the generations. The book brings out the differences between the striking differences between the millennials and their grandparents henceforth called as baby boomers. Here we discuss a few of those findings.
Breaking out from a conservative outlook
Pew’s research shows that more than 59 percent of the baby boomers would favor smaller governments, whereas the millennials like to see bigger governments that can provide more services. The millennials seem to have lost their trust in establishments while their grandparents highly favored them.
The issue of Social security
Both the generations roughly agree on social security. Though they would prefer a smaller government, the boomers are against making cuts in social security as they are profoundly worried about their long-term future. On the other hand, the millennials are seen more open to the social security reforms with over 37 percent of them feeling that some reductions in social security must be considered. For a large number of millennials, this is a kind of moot point. More than half of the millennials hardly believe that they will receive any type of social security while retiring.
A progressive approach to social issues
Most baby boomers vehemently oppose issues like gay marriage. However, a vast majority of millennials sizing up to 68 percent extend their support to gay marriage. Similarly, a large number supports the legalization of marijuana. Religiosity is not the characteristics of the millennials. About 70 percent of the millennials say they are not affiliated to a particular religion.
Democracy is not their cup of tea
Millennials do not have a democratic outlook. Though they are liberals to the core, they do not like to identify themselves with a particular political party. More than 50 percent of the millennials say they wish to be independents while only 27 percent of them registered as Democrats and 17 percent subscribing to Republicans. Over 70 percent of them favored President Obama at the time when he was elected as the president, but the support declined to just 50 percent.
When compared to their grandparents and parents, the millennials are found to be lesser affluent. This generation seems to be in its worst financial shape when compared to their predecessors. Even the unemployment rate appears to be much higher in the case of millennials when compared to those of their parents and grandparents at the same age. Also, this generation has higher student debt. Student debt is a highly prevalent case in about 37 percent of the US households headed by adults less than 40 years of age.
Reluctance to get married
Majority of the millennials are reluctant to get married. In case they come forward to do so, they prefer someone from a different race. Before 1960, only less than 3 percent of the marriages were between people of different races or ethnic backgrounds. As against their previous generations, more than half of millennials say intermarriage is a social good.
Many of them do not own homes
Only less than 25 percent of 30-year-olds own their own home as against the 80 percent of baby boomers who own and reside in their own properties. The number of young homeowners is fast declining. However, more than 64 percent of the millennials are of the opinion that owning a home is very important. A survey report published by TD bank says that more than 84 percent of the renters between the ages of 18 and 34 keenly look forward to purchasing a new house in the nearest possibility.
Times are changing, and every succeeding generation confronts an altogether different scenario. The change is more pronounced, especially with the millennials. This fact calls for a drastic change in the policies of the society and state. A report published by the intergenerational commission of the Resolution Foundation brings out the troubling inequalities between the generations. Torsten Bell, the foundation’s director, says, “Intergenerational war doesn’t reflect how people feel about the issues or how they live their lives as families.” The commission advocates to remodel the welfare state to address the concerns of the young people who are highly anxious about housing, jobs, and pensions while the previous generation was only concerned of some altogether different issues like health, social care, future of their children and the fragility of the welfare state. Hence it becomes highly relevant to find ways to keep our promises pertinent to address the situation and needs of the millennials today.