The wealth gap between young and old is wider than ever, and members of the Millennial generation- those born roughly between 1983 and 1994 – are living at home longer than any time since before World War II.
Census data suggests that a typical household headed by someone over 65 earns 47 times more than those headed by a person under 35.
Analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center suggests that the generation’s weak work ethic could be to blame for the disparity.
“Millennials are the only [generation] that doesn’t cite ‘work ethic’ as one of their principle claims to distinctiveness,” Pew found in its report titled “The Millennials: Confident, Connected, Open to Change”.
Pew points to a 2009 study it did that found that three-fourths of respondents thought that older generations such as the Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers and Silent Generation, had a better work ethic and moral values.
This perception of the 50-million member Millennial generation is typified by a quote in The Washington Post from Jared Rogalia, 25, a Hertz rental car manager-trainee in Alexandria, Va. He describes his generation as “spoiled and lazy.”
“We’re free-spirited,” Rogalia said. “[T]hey’d rather be poorer and have free time and have free time than have a lot of money.”
Rogalia is not along in his observations about the Millennials being spoiled.
Business owners interviewed by the Post slammed their Millennial employees as not wanting to put in needed time and energy to succeed.
“The younger candidates start talking about how their shifts need to fit into a predetermined schedule, rather than working around whatever the hospital needs,” Jennifer Miller,director of talent acquisition at Washington,D.C.’s Sibley Memorial Hospital said. “They say, ‘I can’t work evenings.’ I was schooled in you don’t put up roadblocks in an interview.”
Others say the generation’s tech obsession undermines its work ethic. Pew found that Millennials are more technologically engaged than any generation in history and also more likely to be involved online with social media and to use electronic gadgets.
Drs. Joanne Sujansky and Jan Ferri-Reed even wrote a book titled “Keeping The Millennials” about how the Millennials are costing corporate America billions in turnover costs because of their poor work ethic.
Millennials are also the most likely of any generation to classify themselves as liberals and voted for Barack Obama by more than a two-to-one ratio (66-32 percent).
This contrasts with their predecessors, the Gen-Xers who are the most likely to be Republicans due to Ronald Reagan’s lasting generational influence.
Why the contrast?
According to the Aspen Education Group, this trend can be traced back to the self-esteem movement that was the rage back in the 1980s and 1990s, which refused to let them taste failure.
“Unconditional love and being valued ‘just because you’re you!’ was the prevailing philosophy. In practice, it involved constantly praising children, not criticizing them under any circumstances, emphasizing feelings, and not recognizing one child’s achievements as superior to another’s. At the end of a season, every player ‘won’ a trophy,” Aspen found. “Instead of just one ‘student of the month,’ schools named dozens. Teachers inflated grades from kindergarten through college: ‘C’ became the new ‘F.’ No one ever had to repeat a grade because staying behind caused poor self-esteem.”
Parents likewise grew to cover for their Millenial children’s mistakes, even going into debt to pay for their speeding tickets or increased insurance premiums.
Researchers have found that this has led to an epidemic of narcissism and self-centeredness that has created an overwhelming sense of entitlement.
This also has led to a different view of the older generation among Millennials that is unshared with Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers who had acrimonious relationships with their elders.
Where staying at home with parents well into adulthood formerly was looked at a sign of failure, Pew found that Millennials lack such a sense of shame.
“Among adults ages 25 to 34, 61 percent say they have friends or family members who have moved back in with their parents over the past few years because of economic conditions,” Pew found in its study titled “The Boomerang Generation – Feeling OK about Living with Mom and Dad”.
“Furthermore, three-in-ten parents of adult children (29 percent) report that a child of theirs has moved back in with them in the past few years because of the economy,” Pew wrote.
The study also found that Millennials are more dependent on their parents’ finances than those in their early 30s.