NEWSWIRE: 1/29/18

  • The New York Times asks young readers to vote on a name for their generation. With today’s youth inching closer to young adulthood (and, not coincidentally, to their first brush with consumerism), the subtle art of naming a generation again enters the popular discourse. (The New York Times)
    • NH: Yes, I'm quoted in this article--and yes, we do have a sort of placeholder name for the generation coming after Millennials (Homelanders). That said, generations typically don't acquire consensus names until they are coming of age and can play some role in the choice. That holds even if the choice is simply to accept an earlier coinage by others (e.g., "Baby Boomers," coined in the early 1970s, when Boomers decided to go with a term that many demographers had been using since the time they were, well, babies). 
  • Just 45% of Australian teenagers had ever drunk a full glass of alcohol in 2015, compared to 70% in 2000. Not only are today’s protective parents keeping a closer eye on the liquor cabinet, but this “sober generation” simply doesn’t place the same cachet on drinking as previous generations of young adults. (Drug and Alcohol Review)
    • NH: We've seen a similar shift in the U.K.--which, like Australia, used to have serious youth alcohol problem (which has since aged along with U.K.'s Boomers; see: "Trendspotting: 11/13/17"). Surveys of this "generation sober" show that tobacco and other drug use (even cannabis) is declining. They also point to two causal drivers: Today's teens are more likely to say that their parents won't let them near alcohol and are more likely to cite health risks.
  • Assisted-stretch studios are popping up nationwide—thanks largely to Boomers. Many active Boomers who aren’t ready to accept the limitations of old age have enlisted companies like The Stretching Room and Stretch Zone to make them feel young again. (Orlando Sentinel)
    • NH: Perfect exercise for Boomers: It is utterly passive, requiring no effort whatsoever. Go with the flow, man!
  • Economists have a new explanation for persistently low inflation: the “Amazon effect.” The rapid growth of e-commerce and mobile shopping gives consumers more opportunity to find the best deals—which holds down goods prices across the economy and makes the Fed’s task of timing interest-rate hikes even tougher. (The Wall Street Journal)
    • NH: This is a partial and misleading argument. In fact, retail price rises are slowing mainly due to rapid productivity gains in that sector (thanks in part to the growth of e-commerce). They are also slowing due to squeezed retail profit margins (led by the likes of Amazon and Walmart). But neither of these trends are economy-wide. Overall productivity growth, while rising over the last few quarters, is still trending much lower (around 1.3% YoY) than in earlier decades that experienced much higher inflation. And profit margins? They are historically high across the economy. To explain inflation, alas, we cannot ignore the supply and demand for money and the role of financial institutions.
  • A majority of 15- to 24-year-olds (55%) view protests and marches in a negative light, describing them either as pointless, counterproductive, divisive, or violent--versus 36% who view them positively. In contrast to young Boomer firebrands in the 1960s, most late-wave Millennials would rather find a peaceful, amicable way to effect change. (MTV/Public Religion Research Institute)
    • NH: On a slightly darker side, this look at youth in the age of Trump finds signs of an emerging "identitarian" split along racial-ethnic lines. Among young white males, the split is 61% versus 27%. Also, white young men agree (43% to 29%) that "reverse discrimination" is as serious a problem as discrimination against other groups.
  • Designer (and Boomer) Roxanne Assoulin’s jewelry line has grown 300 percent YOY thanks to social media influencers. For small businesses, influencers are a good way to make products accessible and shareable. (CNBC)
  • Millennials are becoming nurses at twice the rate of Boomers. For Millennials in search of a career, health care is a no brainer as an increasing share of the population enters old age. (Health Affairs)
    • NH: The likelihood of a young Millennial becoming a nurse is roughly double what it was for young Boomers or young Xers. The number of Millennial nurses are thus rising on a very steep trajectory. Last year, they overtook the number of Boomer nurses. And in three or four years, they will overtake the number of Gen-X nurses. Why do Millennials find nursing attractive? To quote from the article: "RNs have stable lifetime earnings and low rates of unemployment, as well as vast opportunities to change positions and geographic locations and to take on new and expanded roles in an ever-changing health care landscape."
  • A new analysis of Census data reveals that 86% of women ages 40 to 44 were mothers in 2016, up from 80% in 2006. The lifetime fertility of U.S. women has also risen over the past decade, highlighting the recent fertility-rate rise among older women even as Millennials have put off having children. (Pew Research Center)
    • NH: In other words, Xer women have somewhat reversed the huge gain in lifetime childlessness effected by Boomer women. And they have done so largely by having more babies later in life (past age 30) than prior generations. Among sociodemographic groups, the biggest observed generational shift was in highly educated professional women.
  • Michael Hobbes, author of an article entitled “Millennials Are Screwed,” stands by his argument that Millennials have it harder than previous generations. He makes several solid points: Whether it’s the decline in full-time jobs with employer-provided benefits or rising housing costs, Millennials can’t seem to catch a break. (NPR)
  • One-third (31%) of Millennials say they’ve kept a financial account secret from their current romantic partner, the highest share of any generation. Today’s risk-averse young couples are wary of merging bank and credit card accounts until they know they’ve met “the one.” (CreditCards.com)
    • NH: Equally revealing is that 31% of those in relationships (at all ages) consider a secret account be worse than sexual infidelity. Ouch! What explains the higher prevalence of financial secrecy (past or present) among Millennials? Clearly, it's that older generations married much younger and much sooner after the start of a "committed relationship" (ahem). The Silent, for example, married at an average age of 21--and only 8% said they had ever kept a financial account secret from their partner.


      What’s in a (Last) Name? The modern dating scene is a minefield of potential pitfalls—and perhaps no issue is more vexing than getting (and giving) a last name. In a seeming contrast to the openness of life on the Internet, dating apps like Tinder and OKCupid often show no more than a first name. This allows users to control and curate the image that they present to potential suitors—an image that is shattered when a last name is learned. “Once you have the last name, that unlocks this whole new universe of information,” says Nicole Ellison, a professor who has studied online dating. Despite the fact that anyone with an Internet connection and a hunch can figure out a last name with a little work, asking for or offering up a last name has nevertheless become a source of awkwardness—if only because it signals romantic interest. In the words of 26-year-old Denny Dowty, “It’s the 21st-century equivalent of leaving a calling card.”