Paul Taylor describes some of the key characteristics of the Millennial Generation. Taylor is the executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, where he oversees demographic, social, and generational research. He is the author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown (http://goo.gl/bqaczF).
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Transcript - So millennials are a generation, we define them as having been born after 1980. So the oldest of them is in his or her early thirties. The youngest is mid teenagers. Typically generations last about 20 years or so. We don't really know when the back half of this generation ends. There's probably a 12 or 13 year old who's somebody different. But he or she hasn't quite come of age yet. It's a very distinctive generation and the oldest of them has now made the passage into adulthood so we know a little bit more about them than we did eight or ten years ago when they first came on the scene. Distinctive. They're a very large generation. By the time the 20 year cycle is done there'll probably be 80 million strong, the largest generation since the baby boomers. They are very distinctive racially and ethnically. They are the transitional generation in an America that in the middle of the last century was about 85 percent white. By the middle of this century will be only a little more than 40 percent white.
Millennials are the most nonwhite generation. They're more than four in ten are nonwhite. This is driven by the great modern immigration wave that's now about four or five decades old. Like our earlier immigration waves which are almost entirely from Europe, this immigration wave is mostly from Latin America and Asia. And it's the immigrants themselves but more so now it's the children of the immigrants, the U.S. born children of the immigrants who make up a very heavy portion of this millennial generation. They're distinctive politically. They're now old enough to have voted in two or three presidential elections and they were a very big part of both of President Obama's victories. By our calculation at the Pew Research Center where I work and did a lot of the research that led to this book, they are the most democratic voting generation of young adults of any we have seen in 50 or 60 years of tracking voting patterns.
They're very liberal in their social and cultural values so some of the changes that are going on in the country on issues like same sex marriage, marijuana legalization -- we see pretty dramatic changes in a fairly short period of time in terms of public attitudes. It's the millennials, it's the young adults who are leading the way. Despite their distinctive political and social views and voting behaviors, however, they're not terribly attached to the Democratic Party even though they gave big votes to democratic presidential candidates. When we asked adults of all ages are you a democrat or republican or an independent, millennials -- 50 percent of millennials say I'm independent. We've never seen that high a share from any age cohort. We see a similar thing when we ask about their religion. I mean, what are you? Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish? A record share of millennials say I'm nothing in particular.
And there's a third anchor institution of society, if you will, that millennials are not attached to and that's a little old 5,000 year old institution called marriage. So of today's 18 to 33 year olds only about a quarter are married. If you go back to older generations when they were the same age, five in ten, six in ten of the older generation, more than six in ten were married. I think the slow walk toward marriage and the disassociation from anchor institutions, I think, are explained by first their economic circumstances. Another distinctive thing about this generation is they're the first in modern American history and perhaps the first in American history that at least so far -- we don't know how their story ends but we know how the story of their economic lives have begun and at least so far they are the first generation in modern times that is doing less well economically than their parents' generation on any way you measure it... [transcript truncated]
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton
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