In my study of financial gerontology I became acquainted with the social science term "cohort," which refers to a group of subjects with a common defining characteristic, typically age. We have all heard about the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Generation Jones and the Sandwich Generation. Inevitably, a new generation is now taking shape: Generation Y, otherwise known as The Millennials.
The Millenials are the children of the boomers and were born between 1977 and 1998. Making up approximately 29% of the U.S. population, they are also known as the "digital natives" because they have grown up with instant communication technologies such as laptops, cell phones, MP3 players and all the other electronic devices that define modern life. They look to the Internet for answers to their questions, particularly on Google, and are avid users of Facebook and YouTube. Being "in touch and on line" is central to this group’s identity.
In reviewing materials for this blog posting I uncovered some interesting characteristics about this latest demographic cluster. They are a truly a "hands on" bunch. Millenials prefer face-to-face meetings with their advisors and place a high degree of importance on trustworthiness and honesty. They will seek advice from parents and peers when searching for a doctor, lawyer or accountant. As a group, they put a greater premium on professional feedback and personal "word-of-mouth" referrals.
Millenials are considered optimistic but also realistic. They believe that U.S. political institutions will deal effectively with the long-term issues facing the nation and broadly favor stronger government. They are more concerned with the public interest, less cynical, more multicultural, inclined to volunteerism and look to find solutions to all sorts of societal problems based on consensus. Over the next several decades this generation will inherit the wealth of the boomers, which some estimates place at as much as $40 trillion.
Our hope for the future is in the hands of the Millenials, and they are emerging as an interesting, resilient and determined bunch. Stay tuned.