What children really think about their parents’ finances, health, and careers

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As Baby Boomers prepare to abdicate their title as the largest living adult generation, experts begin to unpack all of the fundamental ways that their heir apparent are destined to fail in the ensuing decades compared to their predecessors. So far, the current crop of workers earns considerably less than Boomers did at their age, even if this demographic also tends to measure success more abstractly.  Absolute mobility has declined from around 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in 1984.

Of course, money isn’t the only or even most reliable metric for satisfaction. The big picture has to be taken into account, in order to sufficiently determine the generation that will experience the smoothest transition into their golden years.

Thankfully Medical Alert: Buyers Guide did exactly that. By querying 1,020 adults, between the ages of 18 and 35, the authors were able to illustrate the modern perception of success in juxtaposition to the one adopted by previous generations.

Fifty percent of the participants identified as female, 49% as male, and less than 1% as a gender not indexed in the new report. Fourteen percent of the 1,020 adults were baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964), 23% identified as Generation X (born 1965 to 1980), and 59% identified as millennials (born 1981 to 1997). The remaining respondents either belonged to Generation Z or were a member of the silent generation.

Projections

Despite the grim portends, just about half of the Millenials believe that they will not only be more responsible with their earnings than their parents were at their age, they also believe they will secure more professional accomplishments than them as well. The Boomers expressed a similar hubris, but about their health. Seventy percent of these said that they took better care of themselves than their parents did and do,  even if research appears to disagree.

Financial acumen was flaunted to one extent or another across the board. Two out of five respondents agreed that their parents did a terrible job at saving money, and 25% of all the participants queried said that their folks frequently spent way beyond their means. The censure varied more discreetly based on the generation doing the finger-wagging of course, with Xers lamenting the lack of emergency funds growing up much more than any other demographic involved in the study.

Given that the vast majority of respondents grew up thinking that their parents were terrible with money, it follows that an equally sizeable portion plan/planned to purchase homes several years later than their parents did-though Gen Xers began putting away money for retirement, vacations, and emergencies much earlier than their folks did.

The MAGB editorial team wrote, “The Urban Institute’s Millennial Homeownership report concluded that millennials are buying homes at a rate of 8 percentage points lower than baby boomers and Gen Xers. Some reasons for this are delayed marriages, increased education debt, and more racial diversity.”

Recently, Ladders covered the way Millennials are poisoned by the tendency to conflate good work and meaningful work. The aptest anecdote for this phenomenon is the way most of the guys that worked on superhero comics in the 1950s were just talented ink pushers that were trying to sell bubble gum and soft drinks ads to kids. They went to work, punched in, drew a guy in a cape punching an alien in the face, punched out, went home and didn’t think about it until the next day.

Now that same job is the most important thing in society, staffed by guys that spend every second of their lives planning continuity that will outlive them and their kids and their kids’ clones. This occurrence is evidenced across all industries. Although Baby Boomers and Gen Xers feel they work/worked the hardest, Millenials and Gen Zers are more likely to report feeling like their professional life eclipses their social one, what with deadlines, validation anxieties, and career ambivalence. 

In the study, the top regrets for younger generations were: Staying with an employer for too long, becoming complacent, and poor work-life balance, whereas older generations more often bemoaned things like physical exertion and lack of higher education.  Even with the purported scarcity of free time, Millennials exercised the most of any generation — even if Baby Boomers tended to eat better and be of better mental health.