Millennials and the so-called “silent generation” five decades earlier differ in their approaches to work, education, military service and institutions like marriage
Just roll with the changes.
Millennials stand in stark contrast to the so-called “silent generation” — folks born between 1928 and 1945 who are old enough to be many millennials’ grandparents — on a number of measures, including education, labor force participation, veteran status and embrace of traditional institutions like marriage, according to a recent Pew Research analysis.
Millennials, or people who were 21 to 36 in 2017, are far likelier to be never-married than the silent generation around the same timeframe, for example: 57% of millennials today have never been married, compared to 17% of silents when they were the same age. (The average age at first marriage rose from 21 for women and 23 for men in 1965 to 27 for women and 29.5 for men last year.) Sixty-five percent of never-married millennials say they still want to get hitched someday.
The younger generation’s men are also far less likely to have served in the military: While 47% of silent-generation men in 1965 were veterans, just 4% of millennial men claimed that status. The active-duty military force shrank considerably after the military draft ended in 1973, as Pew points out.
Millennials — particularly the women — have far outstripped their predecessors on educational attainment. Women aged 21 to 36 last year were four times as likely as their silent-generation analogs about 50 years earlier (36% vs. 9%) to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. Millennial men, meanwhile, were nearly twice as likely (29% vs. 15%). In a reversal, millennial women are 7% more likely than men to hold college degrees or higher — compared to 1965, when young silent men were 6% more likely than women.
The trend of working women has also changed course: Seven in 10 millennial women (71%) are employed, versus nearly six in 10 silent women (58%) in 1965 who were not labor-force participants.
Due in part to an influx of Latin American and Asian immigration and an increase in interracial marriage, millennials today are also far likelier to be minorities. While 84% of silent-generation people in 1965 were non-Hispanic whites, just 56% of millennials identified as such. The proportion of black people stayed more or less constant, but the share of Hispanic people jumped from 4% among silents to 21% among millennials, and share of Asians increased 1% to 7% across generations.
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