Millennials have fewer attachments to traditional political and religious institutions than previous generations. They are also facing greater financial challenges, yet they are more optimistic about the future. Those are among the findings of a recent Pew Research Center survey of adults ages 18-33. We’ll talk about the survey, the growing generation gap between Millennials and Baby Boomers, and other demographic trends with Pew’s Paul Taylor, author of the new book “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown.”

Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center and author of "The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown"

  • Guest

    Unthinking people of all ages will tend to have strong attachments to political and religious organizations, in the same way that small children have strong attachments to mommy and to daycare.

  • Bob Fry

    My generation, the Boomers, have engaged in a life of selfishness and theft from their elders and children: They enjoyed free and cheap services (public K-12, public Universities, infrastructure building) while young, then turned around and froze or lowered taxes for their working lives (Prop 13, “No New Taxes”), and now that they’re retiring, demand Social Security and Medicare be full paid out. Young people now must borrow heavily to go to college. To top it off, Obamacare is being funded by forcing young people into the system with fewer health problems and higher premiums.

    Baby Boomers: the Selfish Generation.

    • Bob Collins

      I was with you until the Obamacare comment. I’m not sure what your point was with that swipe.

  • Lance

    From a Gen-X perspective,

    The main reason for any generation showdown if that’s even the proper description, would be the lower mortality rate with a weak expansion/growth based economy.

    The Boomer generation is living a lot longer than social security was intended to support, and they’re also staying in the work force longer than expected.

    Without a generation work force turnover the Millennials become a lost generation for the work force. They unfortunately get employment later, and will be under employed longer, which also hurts their contribution towards their own retirement.

    – For any that are curious.
    Life Tables for the United States Social Security Area 1900-2100

  • Ben Rawner

    It sounds like there is much divergence. Is there any convergence like libertarians and pro-choice? Or something similar?

  • LM

    Something that I think characterizes Millenials is a sense of betrayal. Boomers have been lying to us our entire lives. “The more you learn, the more you earn” “if you get a degree you’ll get a good job,”if you work hard you’ll make money.” Complete malarky.

    • dorothy

      As a Boomer I agree with you. However, as parents we were extremely na├»ve in believing that our child would be more successful with the degree (graduated in 2010 and still looking for “the job”) but as it turns out, because of the recession, jobs are only now beginning to come around. We thought the degree from a UC would be a shoe-in. We were wrong but at least we did pay for the education so our kid does not have the burden of student loan.

      • invalidnametwo

        No, you paid to have your child turned into another comrade of the communist party – whether you see it in them or not – unless, you sent them to a private university where the Fear of God still exists.

    • LM

      Ha! They read my comment, but interpreted it to mean we’re the hookup generation! Seriously?? Typical Boomer response: all your problems are the result of social media. Completeley missed the point guys.

    • Mel

      The more you learn, the better your life. Learning is life-long. The sooner you learn to think for yourself, the sooner you’ll stop feeling betrayed.

  • Cathy

    My understanding is that Millennials have strayed from a focus on happiness as their main goal in their life like their parents, to a focus on purpose of life. More and more studies show that finding a purpose in life actually improves one’s health. Do you think this is a an unintended positive consequence of the economic meltdown that has forced the younger generation to look at the world differently in this way? Hence, having a more positive outlook on their future in a way the older generation can’t appreciation.

  • Cal M

    The cold hard undeniable fact is that boomers took advantage of their elders’ investments & then turned around & borrowed (more accurately TOOK) from the next generation(s). Heck of a legacy…heck of a legacy.

  • dorothy

    What I object to are people over 65, drawing SS and still working their old jobs or now they are “consulting” and continue to make large salaries (over $100k). They don’t need the SS funds at all yet they feel they deserve it. How do you justify that? Another point, the government should NEVER have used the SS funds for any other purpose!

    • Bill_Woods

      “Another point, the government should NEVER have used the SS funds for any other purpose!”
      Meaning what, that FICA revenues excess to need should have been stored as pallets of bundles of $100 bills? Inflation would have eaten most of the value.
      Instead, the money was put into US Treasury bonds — the safest investment in the world. The alternative would be to put in the stock market, which has its pros and cons.

      • Randy Cook

        The government has historically borrowed against the dividends from SS and Medicare, which is well-documented. There is a school of thought that this discussion never would happen if we had continued to invest and manage the investments for the future.

        People have parlayed their returns on investments into personal wealth for a long time, and the same principles can apply to a system that looks ahead to funding the future.

  • Mike

    How has the economic fluctuations over the past years, and then the debate on the future of the Social Security program affected the way Millennials save for retirement and the future in general? It was stated that Millennials are more optimistic about the future than other generations, and I am curious whether or not these trends carry forward to personal finance and planning ahead.

  • Guest

    Listening to the comment from the person who said that millennials do not, or should not, buy into the racist, sexist, etc. institutions of the boomers was maddening (I read this as pointed towards government, where the institutions are, and from where institutional norms generally flow) . I don’t know what institutions she’s looking at, but the current bastions for liberalism and progressive politics– at least in California, but seemingly all around– are governmental, and government affiliated.

    It is businesses with an old white man at their helm that have a better claim of being relics of racism, sexism, and stagnation (but, on balance, even they are not so). It is time we relegate discussions on racism and sexism to mandatory sensitivity trainings, and shift the public focus to subjects that actually have real impact on our society– like wage inequality, and what kinds of work deserves significant renumeration (my vote: more pay for people who build tangible things– machinists ,construction workers, structural engineers, robotics engineers, etc.– and the teachers to make them, and less pay for the money middlemen.)

    Racism, sexism, and generationalism, are red herrings. Focus on real issues, and not on the issues designed to distract the soulful from the machinations of the greedy.

  • One possible reason for optimism among Millennials is that as time goes on, younger people are more immersed in change. Social and technological change happens faster and faster so younger generations are more used to it. This could bring more acceptance of innovation and innovation can bring a positive future. Innovation beyond the traditional measures of success. Innovation in housing, lifestyles, technology, social interaction and even things like Permaculture open up some exciting possibilities for the future.

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