“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” – Abraham Lincoln

Millennials are among many of my favorite things to research and write about. I being among that cohort like to see what the collective attitudes of people my age are.

If you talk to anyone older than thirty two you won’t hear many positive things about a millennial. Often we are labeled as selfish, self absorbed, and lazy. Some would have you believe we do not wish to work and would rather play video games all day.

I’ll be it, every generation has a few bad apples. There are a few individuals in the millennial generation that may fit that category but it certainly isn’t the whole generation. However, when Millennials are discussed its often in that context.

I want to highlight some of the research that is out there on Millennials. Its truly gives a better indication of what this misunderstood generation’s attitudes reflect.

Research shows that many Millenials are forgoing many of the traditions our parents did. In fact, only twenty six percent of Millenials were married before the age of thirty two. Compared to our parent’s generation whose percentage was thirty six. Research suggest a disparity between that of our grandparent’s generation and our own. Our grandparent’s percentage for marrying before thirty two was forty eight percent. It is evident that Millennials are putting off marriage. Some are opting for cohabitation or even prolonged engagement. They may want to finish school or do some traveling. (1)

Personally, I see nothing wrong with prolonging marriage. Actually, I would encourage it. I think your late twenties is the best time to start a family. However, I realize this line of thinking isn’t for everyone and if you think its best you get married sooner then by all means do so. Usually, when I admit that I think people should put off marriage I get assaulted with tons of questions. Now, I make an attempt to impress upon others just because I think their is an optimal way to do something doesn’t mean I think its the only way to do it.

Research on Millennials’ political orientations are abundant as well. Millennials overwhelmingly supported the president in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. As of recent, much of that support has waned. Most cite that due to a slow economic growth and grid lock in Washington by Democrats and Republicans alike. In most cases Millennials are less likely to trust government institutions. Compared to our grandparents and parents we are less attached to them as the previous generations. In fact more than half of all Millennials consider themselves independent. (1)

In my own experience I come across more self professed independents. Millennials do not like labels and don’t like to be associated with just one political party. We are growing up in a world where customization is king. You can purchase pretty much anything and have it tailored just to suit your exact needs. We do that with movies on Netflix or the music we download off of iTunes. Companies have allowed us to  customize our own commodities. Why shouldn’t our political views be the same? I consider myself an independent because I have picked the beliefs from each party that I like and then incorporate them into my world view. I then vote for the person I believe aligns most with that.

A pew research poll found that Millennials consider themselves less patriotic, less religious, more likely to favor gay rights, and less of an environmentalist (That one surprised me). Furthermore, one poll found more Millennials support legalizing marijuana than gay marriage. Millennials as a whole believe bigger government is acceptable. As a generation, we even believe the government providing everyone with healthcare is a must. Fifty five percent of the generation believes that illegal immigrants should be given citizenship and a majority of Millennials believes biracial couples and gay couples are a good thing for the country. (1)

Those statics indicate that Millennial are among the most accepting and open minded individuals to make up the American population. Again, I do not fall into any one category so I do see many things on the list I agree with and some I disagree with.

Millennials tend to be more optimistic in regards to retirement. Over half believe government benefits such as Social Security won’t be present when they retire. However, they believe they will be able to support themselves once retirement comes. (1)

For myself, I have had an IRA for sometime. I am very lucky that my parents impressed upon me the importance of building personal wealth. I tend to be optimistic but that is because my parents have done a good job in teaching me the steps that should be taken to attain the kind of retirement I expect when I do retire.

I choose this topic to write about because I wanted to gather my thoughts on my generation. I knew much of these statics before I decided to write this blog. I am not surprised by the research I found. I believe we as Millennials are getting a lot of things right but I also think there are some areas where we need improvement. 

I find some of the research conflicting. 

For instance, we as a cohort distrust government institutions but believe in bigger government? In my opinion that doesn’t make much sense. Personally, I favor smaller government. So if I had a distrust in government institutions that would make sense. 

We also have no faith that the system will work for us when we reach the age for retirement but don’t appear to have any interest in fixing the system or privatizing it? 

I was also surprised most Millennial do not consider themselves environmentalists considering academia pushes it heavily on college campuses. 

The unemployment rate for Millennials is twenty percent and yet the outlook for future wealth is optimistic. This may be underscored because of the resiliency that many Millennials possess. 

Again, I wanted to connect the different attitudes and beliefs of Millennials. The statistics speak for themselves. Often one may run across an opinion piece that is negative toward Millennials. Some may be over the top. Research can help filter from what is mindless complaining to the real truths as to who a Millennial is. Too often we are categorized as narcissistic, disengaged, and the “Me” generation. On the surface there can be some truth to that. I mean who doesn’t like taking a selfie? However, I know it to be true that those characteristics do not represent the majority of Millennials. Some of us are certainly not disengaged from politics or other serious matters facing society. 

This in itself is humbling

*(1) -http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/03/07/more-diverse-millennial-generation-rewrites-traditions/

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