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NEWSWIRE: 6/11/18

  • Developers are building pint-sized golf courses that offer a streamlined, cheaper golf experience. The driving force is generational change: Shorter nine-hole courses with amenities like craft beer could help attract Millennials who don’t want to spend all day on the greens. (The Wall Street Journal)
    • NH: The backlash against super-serious, workaholic golf began with Gen Xers. Around 2005, elite courses began noticing that the new generation of players did not have the time, money, or patience to "master" a sport that seemed to look down on the casual player simply wanting to have some fun. As golf bookings started to decline, many fabled golfing destinations began seriously rethinking their brand. (These included Scottsdale, Arizona, the "Hollywood of American golfing," for whom I have consulted heavily on this issue.) Now comes the Millennial Generation, with even less money and time and certainly less interest in championship times or scores. (See: "Did You Know? Boomers Outpace Millennials.") Result? New super-short nine-hole 27-par courses engineered for just having a good time. Next up? Electronic simulators (already popular in Asia) and high-tech driving ranges. To the horror of Boomer pros, golf may ultimately come to resemble the gadget- and fun-filled "miniature golf" they recall from their childhood.
  • New research finds an inverse correlation between fertility and literacy rates worldwide. In regions from China to Africa to India, declines in the fertility rate have coincided with campaigns to boost literacy—which could serve as a valuable playbook for curbing overpopulation. (Populyst.net)
    • NH: There's an old saw in statistics--correlation is not causation--and that certainly applies here. It is highly unlikely that lower fertility causes higher literacy. Nor is it much more likely that more literacy, in and of itself, causes lower fertility. Far more plausible is the consensus view of demographers that "modernization" embodies a whole host of social trends (not just greater literacy but also greater affluence, urbanization, and more individualistic outlook on self and society) that promote fewer lifetime births. The single most persuasive study on the impact of cultural trends on fertility was conducted in Brazil. It found, during the 1990s, that sharp declines in Brazilian fertility coincided precisely with the date, state by state, on which TV telenovelas were first broadcast. These telenovelas mostly featured attractive affluent women, with few or no kids, living the good life. While Brazilian literacy was generally rising at the same time, researchers could find no comparable match between literacy and fertility by region.
  • In her new book on parenting, author Katherine Reynolds Lewis argues that today’s kids have trouble regulating their behavior and emotions. This couldn’t be further off the mark: Parents and teachers have never placed a greater emphasis on teaching self-regulation—which has turned Homelander kids into a self-aware, if emotionally repressed, bunch. (National Public Radio)
    • NH: "Self-regulation" is now the clarion call among the educators and parents of K-12 kids. It has given rise to rising worries about ADHD, highly structured behavioral curricula like "Tools of the Mind," and a proliferation of detailed rules governing every aspect of child conduct. (See: "Attention Deficit, or Something Else?" and "Are Kids 'Overruled'?") Are kids actually having more trouble with self-regulation? At a time when practically every indicator of violence, fighting, and addiction among children are down? No, but as usual their Gen-X parents--who recall their own undeniably savage childhood--are fighting the last war. Aside from this misplaced put-down of kids, much of the advice Lewis offers is sound: It's easier for kids to behave when they have more opportunities for "free range" play on their own and when their parents expect them to help out more with the burdens of family life. This is timeless wisdom: Kids who feel they are contributing are less likely to "act out."
  • Millennial women are just two-thirds as likely as Millennial men to change positions within their company—and are much less likely to resign if they don’t receive a promotion. These data can be interpreted two ways: as a sign that gender bias is still hampering women's choices in the workplace--or as evidence that young women aren't looking for the same kind of "success" as men. (Visier)
    • NH: Interestingly, these differences are only present among all Millennial workers. Among Millennial managers, there is little or no gender difference in behavior. Managers, alas, are disproportionately male. Yet, as Visier points out, the rising manager gap by age coincides pretty closely with the likelihood of child-bearing by age. Depending on how you interpret it, this study provides grist for both sides of today's culture war.
  • Retail industry insiders say that a recent partnership with Amazon is helping Kohl’s win over Millennials. It goes deeper than mere brand appeal: Giving consumers a physical outpost where they can return items purchased on Amazon (and maybe buy some Kohl’s gear while they’re there) is the perfect way to ride the coattails of the e-commerce boom. (MarketWatch)
  • In the wake of recent sexual harassment scandals, Uber has rolled out an in-app 911 button for riders. This new feature, intended to give riders peace of mind, is Uber’s latest attempt to transform its own toxic culture. (Mashable)
    • NH: Ever since taking over last fall, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been doing all he can to push the brand in a softer and gentler direction--to make it, like Lyft, more nurturing and mission-based. A brash and edgy image is great when steamrolling taxi companies in new cities. It's not what the customer wants to see in the driver to whom he is entrusting his life for the next ten minutes.
  • Michael Rotundo, a 30-year-old whose parents filed suit to evict from their home, has finally moved out. The story has become an easy target for Millennial-bashers who believe that most young adults today are entitled freeloaders. (CNN)
    • NH: After all the publicity surrounding the excruciating legal gauntlet that Michael has put his parents through, I'm astounded that any landlord in the vicinity would have rented a room to this guy. Clearly he chose some unlucky apartment owner who doesn't watch the local news.
  • Zillow senior Economist Aaron Terrazas argues that Boomers who refuse to downsize are adding to the ongoing housing inventory crunch. While previous generations happily moved into retirement communities, Boomers want to age in place, which is bad news for younger prospective homebuyers. (CBS News)
  • Lululemon’s Q1 2018 earnings report shows that revenue, net income, and new customer acquisition all soared by double-digit percentages YoY. Credit the brand’s recent success to its domination of an increasingly competitive athleisure field. (MediaPost)
  • Ten consecutive years of net mutual-fund outflows have left Fidelity searching for answers. Renowned for its star fund managers, the firm is now considering a move toward a safer, team-based stock picking system that could help attract risk-averse young investors. (The New York Times)
    • NH: The steady attrition in net contributions to Fidelity's actively traded mutual funds has been masked by steady growth in mutual-fund capital gains and (even more) by the ongoing success of its lower-margin "asset administration" business. For obvious reasons, Fidelity doesn't want to abandon its king-of-mutual-funds brand. In the short term, it needs to offer a greater range of passive products to attract younger investors. In the longer term, it needs to hope that the next serious market downturn will rekindle public interest in active over passive--assuming, of course, that Fidelity's mutual funds are better positioned than the ETFs to weather the next bout of stormy market weather. If not, what's the point?

          DID YOU KNOW?

          Generational Opposites Attract. Generational differences are never starker than when they crop up in a relationship. That’s the message of a recent New York Times profile of intergenerational married couples. Some differences are merely the product of an age gap (such as differing energy levels). But others are highly generational. Kathleen Johnson, a 32-year-old with an affinity for texting, was dismayed when her Xer then-boyfriend Neal Johnston called her after one of their first dates: “I was like, O.M.G. What’s wrong with him? Why is he calling me?” Social media is another sticking point, with many Xers expressing hesitance toward sharing personal details online. Xer Patrick Michael Wickham, for instance, long refused to change his Facebook relationship status—despite prodding from his Millennial girlfriend Veronica London. (He finally relented once the pair married.) Screen time is another source of contention. Katie Lowsley-Williams, 30, has trouble putting down her phone while with her 47-year-old husband: “I always need to be doing something else—I can’t even watch a movie, and it drives him crazy.”