Millennial generation priorities, identities diverging from older generations

With cell phones as bedmates and college a necessity, the millennial generation is fast setting itself apart from parents and grandparents.
The millennial generation, or those born after 1980, has the highest amount of education, with 54 percent having some college education, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study. The study examined millennials age 18 to 29.

With 83 percent of millennials reporting they have slept with their cell phone at some point compared to 46 percent of all other generations, it’s obvious technology helps define the generation.

“My phone is always by my side,” said Allegra Baxter, Olathe junior. “I use it for weather, communication. Everything. I think I definitely use it differently than my parents do.

The millennial generation looks different than previous ones, with 61 percent identifying as white, compared to 70 percent of those 30 or older. Those identifying as black increased from 11 to 14 percent, with Hispanics increasing the most from 13 to 19 percent and Asians remaining at five percent.

But the priorities of millenials are not much different from those who came before, with parenting and a successful marriage being the two most important life priorities. Of those 29 and younger, 52 percent listed being a good parent and 30 percent listed a successful marriage, compared to 30 percent and 35 percent, respectively, of those 30 and older.

For students like Chris Dill, a freshman from Austin, Texas, the priorities seem a little out of whack.

“Success, having a good job, those are most important to me,” Dill said. According to the study, a high-paying job and religion were some of the least important priorities, each weighing in at 15 percent.

But compared to those 30 and older, the success and religion set the generations apart, with 21 percent of the older generation prioritizing religion and only 7 percent saying success is a priority.

Chris Crandall, a University sociology professor, said the varying importance of priorities between generations all comes back to age.

“There is the fact that the 30 plus people are simply older,” Crandall said in an email. “Marriage matters more to a 35-year-old than to an 18-year-old. And so, I think a simple way to interpret the data is that millenials are mostly like other Americans, but that they are less concerned about leading a religious life.”

  • Updated Nov. 8, 2012 at 7:50 am
  • Edited by Stéphane Roque