Maixin Research

Demographics. Geopolitics. Innovation.


Who Are the Millennials?

Discussing Demographics

The below are some facts about the Millennial generation. In some cases, we’ve updated our original research provided ceteris paribus comparative assessments were available. Some of these facts will be updated further. As for private research available to institutions, we do not include these facts on this page.

  1. Millennials are the largest generation in U.S. History since the Baby Boom generation (Millennials are internationally referred to as Generation Y as a title). There are approximately over 80 million American Millennials between the birth dates 1980 to 1995.
  2. (2008) Approximately 40% of Millennials aged 18-24 are enrolled in college. (Update 2015) 37% Millennials have graduated from college.
  3. Following the housing collapse (2008), Millennials held the highest unemployment rate of any U.S. demographic despite being one of the most college educated at an early age.
  4. (Update 2016) Millennials favor more government than other American generations, especially in healthcare and finance.
  5. Millennials are more isolationist than former American generations.
  6. Millennials think that China will pose the largest problems for the United States in the future.
  7. Millennials observe religion far less than former generations.
  8. Millennials use drugs and alcohol more than previous American generations and its drug use is much broader than previous American generations.
  9. (2009) 21% of Millennials were married. (Update 2017) 45% of Millennials were or had been married (45% includes currently married, divorced and widowed).
  10. (2011) Only 20% of Millennials list owning a home as a major priority
  11. (2009) 54% of Millennials lived in the suburbs; living with parents is included.
  12. Millennials view living with parents as pragmatic and sensible. This significantly differs from earlier American generations.
  13. (2010) Over 90% of Millennials have access to the internet; 75% of Millennials use some form of social networking; 40% of Millennials have no land-line.
  14. (2010) Millennials do not value privacy and believe that privacy is a relic of the past.
  15. (2010) Median income of individual Millennials is $22,000. (2016) The median Millennial household has $2500 saved.
  16. (Update 2015) Millennials are more likely to want other transportation options than earlier American generations
  17. (Update 2016) Millennials see technology as a way to socialize instead of face-to-face methods.
  18. (2011) Millennials use email less than Baby Boomers.
  19. (2010) 40% of Millennials had a tattoo. (Update 2014) 45% of Millennials have a tattoo.

The Name Millennial vs. Generation Y

By “Millennial” we refer to people living in the United States born (or born elsewhere but live in the United States) between the years of 1980 and 1995, excluding Amish Millennials, which we refer to as Amish Millennials if referenced. With the exception of the People’s Republic of China (we refer to as “Risers”), we use the term “Generation Y” to refer to all people in the world born between the years of 1980 and 1995. The name “Riser” comes from the prediction that China has become the world superpower along with the Chinese generation being more ambitious than their American counterparts. While American Millennials received trophies for participating and were doted on by their parents, Chinese Risers had to work hard to enjoy the success and dominance they have today.

Characteristics of Millennials

We can see the dominant characteristic of Millennials as a generation that has never faced a major challenge, yet believes it has a fascinating story to tell. Even the “Great Recession” that Millennials discuss was a recession with a minor unemployment rate when compared to historical recessions. Additionally, outside of medicine and education – both self-inflicted – Millennials never have faced inflationary periods up to the present date of this update. Without a major challenge, Millennials believe that opportunities are challenges because they haven’t faced challenges. This is part of why we see massive stagnation in this generation – an avoidance of challenging majors, like medicine, along with too many young people going to college and pursuing easy degrees, ironically devaluing what a degree means.

Millennials learned this through their parents and their education system due to a belief that high self-esteem resulted in success. This belief was based on studies that showed successful people had higher levels of self-esteem than unsuccessful people. The previous research firm YRP has investigated this belief and found two observations in its research which question this original study:

  1. The definition of success and self-esteem differ from researcher to researcher. For instance, we found that personal or financial success have no correlation with the dictionary definition of higher self-esteem.
  2. Even if we assume that our data show successful people have high self-esteem, high self-esteem could be caused by success not the inverse. The Millennial generation confirm this too, as they do have high self-esteem, but are not successful when we compare them to Generation Y members of the rest of the world. Likewise, the Amish Millennials in the United States have lower self-esteem than American Millennials who are not Amish, yet the Amish Millennials are more financially and personally successful.

What’s important to note about self-esteem and American Millennials is how this has shaped their dominant characteristic: even without a major challenge, they still believe they have overcome a lot of difficulty. When we compare their adversity to other members of Generation Y around the world (or even the Amish), Millennials look completely out of touch with reality. We can see this contradiction in many issues Millennials are “passionate” about, such as the following:

  • Millennials verbally and through social media claim they feel passionately about helping the environment by not overusing resources and avoiding environmental damage. Yet Millennials love buying the latest cell phone, which are full of rare Earth elements involving catastrophic mining of the Earth’s resources. They also tend to travel overseas through air multiple times a year (one-round air trip does more damage than driving a full-efficient car for an entire year).
  • Millennials believe that education and health care should both be free (or are too expensive), yet very few of them pursued medicine (too hard). In the same manner, when Millennials complain about the price of education rising, they completely contradict this by attending college – the reason college tuition is high is too many Millennials are going to college.

These examples illustrate the confusion researchers experience when studying Millennials: they feel they know the challenges in reality, yet contradict these very challenges by how they live. This highlights another characteristic of Millennials – they do not demonstrate their beliefs through action, they state them verbally or through social media (like memes).

Relative to previous American generations, Millennials will under perform their American generational peers. Likewise, Millennials will under perform non-American members of Generation Y, which partially explains why we see power shift to Asian countries.