Trendspotting: Young Adults Have it Rough—Just Ask Their Parents

11/05/18 03:00PM EST

NEWSWIRE: 11/5/18

  • Most Boomers and Silent say that younger generations today have a harder time achieving financial security than they themselves did. Millennials and Gen Xers agree wholeheartedly with this assessment, concurring by a two-to-one margin that their predecessors had it easy. (Society of Actuaries)
    • NH: It's not just "snowflake" Millennials who think they have it harder economically than their parents did. Hardbitten Gen Xers believe that too. And, guess what? The Silent and early-wave Boomers (roughly, everyone now over age 65) agree with them. When asked directly about their own parents, the response of each generation follows suit. Millennials and Xers say they've had a harder time; early-wave Boomers and Silent say they've had an easier time. Not surprisingly, perhaps, adult Millennials are more than three times as likely to receive financial support from other generations than the Silent Generation (23% versus 7%). So much for the "dependent elderly" stereotype. This is a theme we've been covering for a while.
    • Matt Greenwald and his group, who did this survey, have lots of experience on this topic. For nearly twenty years, Greenwald has done the well-respected "Retirement Confidence Survey" for the Employment Benefit Research Institute. He even includes a fascinating question asking each generation to compare itself with its grandparents. Interestingly, the biggest positive comparison here was made not by the Silent but by early-wave Boomers, whose own grandparents most likely belonged to the Lost Generation--wiped out in midlife by the Great Depression and left behind in old age during the American High. The least-known takeaway from this survey is that Gen Xers feel nearly as economically aggrieved as Millennials. The big decline in upward generational mobility (relative to parents) actually occurred earlier than many think. Most of the decline affected successive Boomer birth cohorts, a point that we have often made and that was documented most recently by Harvard's Raj Chetty, whose calculations we show below. 

Trendspotting: Young Adults Have it Rough—Just Ask Their Parents - Actuaries11

Trendspotting: Young Adults Have it Rough—Just Ask Their Parents - actuaries1

Trendspotting: Young Adults Have it Rough—Just Ask Their Parents - rajchetty

  • Harley-Davidson revenue rose 15% YoY in Q3 2018. However, the company attributes much of this growth to stronger international sales and special promotions; in the United States, total motorcycle sales continue to crater as the Boomers who have long propped up the market hang up their helmets. (USA Today)
    • NH: We've been hard on HOG lately (see: "Trendspotting: 9/10/18"), so we won't pile on. But let's be clear: A 13.3% YoY decline in U.S. motorcycle sales should rule out any cheering, no matter how much they happened to gain in one-off "related" revenue.
  • One-third of Millennials have told a coworker how much they earn, the highest share of any generation. Millennials value openness, transparency, and clear standards in the workplace; comparing salaries also reveals one’s place in the pecking order, an appealing prospect for this achievement-oriented generation. (Bankrate)
    • NH: Because we don't have any good historical trend data on this question, it's hard to know how much of this difference is phase of life versus generational. It's likely some of both. Young employees just starting out have less of their identity riding on their salaries than older generations who have already "paid their dues." Young Gen Xers back in the 1990s were notorious for sharing pay information with each other (it was just a quittable "job," after all), and may have actually found such conversations easier than today's more earnest and risk-averse rising generation.
    • To me, the biggest surprise in this survey was the large share of all generations (25 to 40%) who don't tell the "significant other they live with" how much they make. Wow... what's that all about? And the biggest non-spouse-telling generation is... the Millennials, who (apparently) are as likely to tell their parent or sibling how much they make as they are to tell their spouse. (See: "Trendspotting: 1/29/18.") We also know that nearly one-third of married partners consider a secret financial account to be worse than sexual infidelity. Clearly, guys, you need to sit down one of these evenings and talk this through!

Trendspotting: Young Adults Have it Rough—Just Ask Their Parents - Bankrate

  • The fertility gap between rural and large metro counties has widened since 2007. Though the post-GFC fertility decline has hit all regions nationwide, major metros have been hit hardest; not coincidentally, these happen to be the regions that many Millennials call home. (National Center for Health Statistics)
    • NH: Everyone knows about the significant fertility gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. Fewer are aware that this gap has narrowed sharply over the last decade due to the rapid recent plunge in Hispanic fertility. And hardly anyone knows that this gap is now dwarfed by the larger divide between urban and rural. What's more, this urban-rural divide has been widening even while the ethnic gap has been narrowing. Consider, in 2017, the mean age of first birth for white women, rural (24.9) v. urban (29.0), for a gap of 4.1 years. Now consider the mean age of first birth for urban women, Hispanic (25.4) v. white (29.0), for a gap of 3.6 years. And, yes, in case you noticed: Age 29 is indeed a high number for urban white women. A large share of these women may have a difficult time having a second or third child even if they want one.

Trendspotting: Young Adults Have it Rough—Just Ask Their Parents - Regional births1

Trendspotting: Young Adults Have it Rough—Just Ask Their Parents - Regional births2

  • Technology has given rise to “computer-generated stars,” digital personalities that act as social media influencers, models, and even live musicians. When the AI revolution began, few could have imagined that virtual beings would be amassing Instagram followers and holograms would be selling out concerts “IRL.” (Wired)
    • NH: Xers had their "material girl." Millennials and Homelanders are enjoying their "immaterial girls." We're not talking values here. We're talking ontology--as in, these stars are digital fabrications. Take a look at the ubiquitous Brazilian-American it-girl Miquela, with over a million followers, whose fans often find her more relatable than a human. Or the first totally digital fashion model, Shudu. Or the huge popularity of Japanese digital pop star Hatsune Miku, whose holographic image can pack large concert halls and whose voice possesses a (literally) inhuman range and pitch perfection. Nor are older generations left behind. Want to watch Roy Orbison (who died thirty years ago) perform "Pretty Woman" live in London, backed by with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra? Watch his hologram here. Notice the reversal: The celebrity here is digital. It's the accompaniment that's human.
  • Intergenerational conflicts are arising at family foundations. Many Millennials and late-wave Xers who value technology and hands-on activism advocate for a new philanthropic approach, while their parents often feel that the traditional operating procedures (cash payouts vs. volunteering, keeping a low profile vs. oversharing on social media) work just fine. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Here’s a memorable headline: “Aging Boomer Men Can’t Quit Their Violent, Murderous Ways.” Of all the things Boomers are known for, this piece highlights one of the least known and certainly the least illustrious: elevated rates of violent crime that started in their youth and have persisted as they’ve aged. (The Daily Beast)
    • NH: This is an interesting but seldom-noticed fact. Back in the late 1960s and 1970s, violent-crime perps were overwhelmingly in their teens and twenties. ("Burn, baby, burn" was the youth chant during the 1965 Watts riot.) Back then, while Clint Eastwood was offing young punks, savage murderers in midlife or beyond were practically unheard of. In recent years, we are much less surprised by 55+ Americans behaving like monsters. They have figured in many of the most notorious recent mass murders, as this article points out. What's the unifying thread? Boomers, of course. They've had a lifelong propensity for acting out their inner rage.
    • Several years ago, in an essay on this theme, we pointed out how the criminality of Boomers maturing into older age brackets--combined with the much lower propensity for crime among Millennials--was leading to a dramatic aging of America's prison population. Let me repost a revealing chart from that piece here.


  • Writer Sarah Stankorb, an early-wave Gen Xer, lays bare the struggles of caring for her ailing parents and young children. The financial load on the sandwich generation is particularly crushing: “My Internet search history is filled with questions about financing nursing care, mixed with searches for what college costs for my kids will be in 10 years.” (The Washington Post)
    • NH: The rising average maternal age of birth is certainly putting added pressure on midlife parents. It's not unusual today for Xers at age 50 to have Homeland children in elementary school and at the same time have frail Silent parents in their mid-80s and beyond.
  • Increasingly, Silicon Valley parents are asking nannies to sign stringent contracts forbidding screen time for (and even around) their charges. All manner of tech devices are getting hidden as the parents building them go from being wary of their effects on kids to downright petrified. (The New York Times)
    • NH: We were among the very first, several years ago, to call attention to the "reverse digital divide"--that is, the tendency of kids from higher-SES families to spend less time on digital media than kids from noncollege families. Ever since, that reverse divide has widened, especially during the past year. (See: "The Next Big Thing: Tech-Lash Batters Silicon Valley.") The public can hardly be reassured by the maniacal efforts of Silicon Valley parents to shield their own kids from any contact with electronic platforms. Digital executives are likening mobile phones to "crack cocaine." But this story is truly over the top, with parents drafting "nanny contracts" expressly forbidding the presence of digital screens and neighbors acting as "nanny police," notifying parents if they happen to see a caregiver wield a mobile phone in the presence of the child.
  • Financial industry blog Zero Hedge proclaims that “The Fourth Turning Is Here.” By many metrics, Americans are more divided and less satisfied with the way things are going in their country than at any time in recent history; is a Fourth Turning crisis needed to wipe the slate clean? (Zero Hedge)

                  DID YOU KNOW?

                  Two Demographics to Watch at the Polls. Much has been written about the growing partisan gap in American politics. Now, a new analysis of WSJ/NBC News telephone polling pinpoints two demographics in particular that have driven the divide: white women with a bachelor’s degree and white men without a bachelor’s degree. In the 1990s, these two groups differed very little in political preference. But today, female college whites prefer Democratic control of Congress by a 33 percentage-point margin, while male noncollege whites prefer GOP control by 42 points—the widest divide ever measured. The gender component of this divide has long been established, and has been measured in polls going back to the 1980s. But the educational divide is a new phenomenon, one that is unique to whites: Among nonwhites, the partisan divide between degree-holders and non-degree-holders stands at a mere 4 percentage points. Female college whites and male noncollege whites stand diametrically opposed on fundamental issues such as immigration, health care, and ideal government size.

                  © 2020 Hedgeye Risk Management, LLC. The information contained herein is the property of Hedgeye, which reserves all rights thereto. Redistribution of any part of this information is prohibited without the express written consent of Hedgeye. Hedgeye is not responsible for any errors in or omissions to this information, or for any consequences that may result from the use of this information.