The kids are older than you think.

Marketers are still deciding where Generation X ends and the next generation starts. But, whether you call members of that next group Millennials, Generation Y or something else, many of those 70 million consumers are ready to buy insurance products, not simply chew on a plush version of the Aflac Duck.

If the first Millennials were born in 1985 – 20 years after the oldest members of Generation X – then those first Millennials are already turning 27. The oldest are old enough to own homes, to travel for businesses they’ve founded (and rent a car while doing so), and to buy health insurance in their own name. If they have much income to protect, they should be shopping for disability insurance. They should be learning a little about long-term care insurance (LTCI), for their parents if not necessarily for themselves.

See also: 5 Steps for Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y to Prepare for Retirement.

If the youngest Millennials were born in 2004, then even those youngest Millennials are or will soon be 8. They may already recognize the Duck, Flo of Progressive, and Mayhem of Allstate. They’ll turn 21 in 2025. If the world of the 2060s is much like the world of today, they could be the anguished informal caregivers of the 2060s. They might be the care users in the 2080s and 2090s.

When the Millennials were born, and when most were growing up, credit card marketers were showering credit card offers on their parents. Some of the credit card offers were for the families’ dogs, cats, parakeets, and even the baby Millennials. Water came from a faucet, milk from a carton, and easy money from rectangles of plastic.

The stereotypical parents of Millennials could generally get a job if they could use a computer, and they could get a home loan if they could breathe. 

Now, the Millennials are facing an economy plagued by uncertainty. Is this just an ordinary soft economy or something worse? Will we have oil? Will we have fresh water? Will the weather work properly, or have our cars and power plants broken it? And how will we make all of those pension and retiree health benefits promises we’ve made to the elderly and soon-to-be elderly of the world?

The Millennials themselves are part of a blurry generation. They seem to be in good health, but a lot of them are fat. How can they be so healthy if they’re so fat? On paper, they seem to be well-educated, but they can’t necessarily write. They may text up a storm, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use Google to research a new law, or even know the difference between a computer’s random-access memory and its hard drive.

Will they turn out to be the hard-working, thrifty, forward-thinking kinds of people who can and do buy products such as disability insurance and LTCI insurance, or will they, on average, be too poor or too irresponsible to do much about the future?

Here’s a series of tables that give a glimpse of what the Millennials are like today and hint at what they might become.

A Generation Is Born

One way to define the “Millennial generation” is to say it includes the 70 million people born from 1985 to 2004.

 

Born in the USA
Year Number of Births
2009 4,130,665
2008 4,247,694
2007 4,316,233
2006 4,265,555
2005 4,138,349
2004 4,112,052
2003 4,089,950
2002 4,021,726
2001 4,025,933
2000 4,058,814
1999 3,959,417
1998 3,941,553
1997 3,880,894
1996 3,891,494
1995 3,899,589
1994 3,952,767
1993 4,000,240
1992 4,065,014
1991 4,110,907
1990 4,158,212
1989 4,040,958
1988 3,909,510
1987 3,809,394
1986 3,756,547
1985 3,760,561
1984 3,669,141
1983 3,638,933
1982 3,680,537
1981 3,629,238
1980 3,612,258
1979 3,494,398
1978 3,333,279
1977 3,326,632
1976 3,167,788
1975 3,144,198
1974 3,159,958
1973 3,136,965
1972 3,258,411
1971 3,555,970
1970 3,731,386
1969 3,600,206
1968 3,501,564
1967 3,520,959
1966 3,606,274
1965 3,760,358
1964 4,027,490
1963 4,098,020
1962 4,167,362
1961 4,268,326
1960 4,257,850
Source: National Vital Statistics Reports

 

Health Indicators: Who Has What?

 

  2005-2008 1988-1994
  Adults ages 20-44 All adults ages 20 and older Adults ages 20-44 All adults ages 20 and older
Hypertension 11% 31% 9% 26%
Diabetes 4% 11% 3% 9%
Poor diabetes control among adults with diabetes 26% 13% 29% 23%
Source: CDC/NCHS, National Health Interview Survey

 

What Millennials Fear

Good news for insurers and agents: Employees who are part of Gen Y are very concerned about the effects of unforeseen events affecting family financial security.


Gen Y Gen X Younger Boomers Older Boomers
Employee’s premature death 54% 51% 47% 39%
A principal wage earner is no longer able to work because of disability or serious illness 65% 58% 58% 51%
Extra costs not covered by medical insurance that result from a serious illness 63% 51% 55% 48%
Having enough money to pay bills during a period of sudden income loss 72% 60% 56% 57%
Source: 10th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends


Are They Planning Ahead?

 

Percentage of Young Workers Who Say They Have Saved for Retirement
  2012 2002
Workers, Ages 25-34 66% 72%
All Workers 55% 70%
Percentage of Young Workers Who Say They Will Have Enough Money to Take Care of Basic Expenses During Retirement
  2012 2002
Workers, Ages 25-34 26% 40%
All Workers 26% 38%
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, and Mathew Greenwald & Associates Inc., Washington

What The Millennials Think About Benefits

 

 

 

How Young Adults’ Assets Have Changed

 

  2009 1984
  All Younger than 35 All Younger than 35
Own home 66% 38% 64% 4%
Rental property 6% 2% 1% 4%
Other real estate 6% 2% 1% 5%
Stocks and mutual funds 22% 13% 2% 13%
IRA and Keogh accounts 29% 17% 2% 1%
401(k) and thrift accounts 4% 38% NA NA
Financial institution accounts 65% 58% 72% 65%
U.S. savings bonds 11% 8% 15% 13%
Other interest-earning assets 3% 1% 9% 5%
Regular checking accounts 32% 32% 54% 51%
Business equity 11% 7% 13% 1%
Vehicles 84% 81% 86% 88%
Source: (c) 2011 Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends project. The Rising Age Gap in Economic Well-Being. 

 

 

The Generations: Pew Research Center Compares and Contrasts

How Do They Think?
Analysts at Pew conducted a fascinating survey to provide the data behind an online quiz system that determines what generation the user is part of. Here are some of the questions and answers.
  Total Millennial Gen X
    (1981 +) (1965-1980)
In the past 24 hours, about how many text messages, if any, did you send and receive on your cell phone?
0 53% 20% 37%
1 to 9 20% 21% 25%
10 to 49 16% 27% 25%
50 or more 11% 31% 13%
In the past 12 months, have you contacted a government official?
Yes 33% 26% 34%
No 67% 74% 66%
Do you have a tattoo?  
Yes 23% 38% 32%
No 77% 62% 68%
(c) 2010 Pew Research Center.  “How Millennial Are You? The Quiz” Results Data