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A Millennial and Silent Generation Comparison: When I Was Your Age…

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Written by: Evan Goodfellow

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Millennials Really Are Different

If you ever heard your grandparents pontificate on how things were different when they were younger, you should really listen because according to a new Pew Research study, they are right. Here at Insightrix Communities we have been using our Market Research Online Community software to participate in monthly qualitative research studies with Millennials in Saskatchewan through our SaskWatch Panel. Some of our monthly topics have included social media usage, finances, and online dating to name but a few. The Pew Research piqued our interest. 

Changing Attitudes Towards Institutions

The Pew Research article was entitled, “How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago” by Richard Fry, Ruth Igielnik and Eileen Patten. The authors look at some of the stark differences and similarities between these two generations. A lot has changed since the Silent Generation (those who were born in 1940’s to 1950) was the same age as the current Millennials. Millennials have become less attached to political parties, religion, military, and the institution of marriage. More people have college degrees, women in the workforce has increased drastically, and there is more ethnically diverse.

Millennials rank higher in secondary education compared to the Silent Generation. The educational difference between the two generations is greatest among women. Only 9% of the Silent Generation completed a bachelor’s degree before age 36, compared to 36% of Millennials-four times higher. Millennial men that have completed a four year bachelor degree stands at a rate of 29%, compared to 15% for the Silent Generation men.

Women Leading the Pack in Higher Learning

The authors point out is that Millennial woman have exceeded the percentage of men that have a bachelor’s degree. Fry, Igielnik and Patten write, “Among Millennials ages 21 to 36 in 2017, women are 7 percentage points more likely than men to have finished at least a bachelor’s degree (36% vs. 29%).” When the Silent generation was their age women were 6 points less likely to have completed a bachelor’s degree. The female gains go beyond education carrying over to the workforce. In 1965, only 40% of young women from the silent generation were working, compared to 71% of Millennial women.  

The other generational difference between these two generations is marriage. The Silent Generation reporting very few unmarried, while Millennials reporting very few married at the same age. The rate of millennials who never married is roughly 57%, compared to 17% that had never been married for the Silent Generation. The researchers state, “When asked the reasons they have not gotten married, 29% say they are not financially prepared, while 26% say they have not found someone who has the qualities they are looking for; an additional 26% say they are too young and not ready to settle down.”

Times They are a Changing

Times have changed drastically between the Silent Generation and Millennials. Other differences found in the study included the high rates of military service among the Silent Generation compared to Millennials. Another major change is ethnic diversity.  This diversity has resulted from large migration patterns from Asia and Latin America and differing birth rates among these groups. Businesses need to keep up by conducting ongoing market research to keep from bias and to better cater to the new generation.

To learn more about our Online Community software, or to ask questions about our Young Futures project, contact us!

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