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Parenthood Reveals Divide Among Millennials

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Millennials in the U.S. who become parents have a more pragmatic, conservative outlook, according to a new study.

But millennials don’t think of “conservative” in a red versus blue sense. Rather, it betokens an attitude that influences their spending habits, their commitment to the Internet and certain social beliefs widely seen as quintessentially millennial.

FutureCast and Consumer Orbit partnered to conduct the study in July, surveying proprietary data sets of 19.3 million households with adults age 25 to 34, comparing those with and without offspring.

The researchers noted that 22.9 million out of 40 million millennials in the U.S. have children, and 10,000 millennial women are giving birth each day.

“Interest in millennials has reached a fever pitch — and rightfully so, this generation influences the purchases and beliefs of nearly every American,” FutureCast president Jeff Fromm said in a statement.

The researchers did not study whether becoming parents changed the millennials’ attitudes or if there was something fundamentally different about the people who had children. But the data showed “two very disparate groups,” Fromm said.

Consider millennials’ political, social and civic commitment.

Of the non-parents in the survey, 12.5% of belonged to a civic organization, compared with only 0.3% of parents. Likewise, 10% of millennials belonged to an environmental organization, but just 0.2% with children did so.

In fact, the study found that with regard to environmental issues, millennials’ commitment to recycling — a basic conservation ideal — was lower in parents. Childless millennials were more likely than the total U.S. population to believe and be proactive in nearly every category of recycling.

Of the parents, 32.9% identified themselves as “conservative evangelical Christians,” compared with 9.6% of non-parents.

However, more millennial parents, 30%, self-identified with the Democratic Party than any other.

“Millennials do not think of the word ‘conservative’ in political terms, but instead, a definition of how they feel about their household and young family,” Fromm said.

“In fact, when it comes to political outlook, millennials define themselves as ‘middle of the road’ more than any other answer.”

Spending and Privacy Concerns

The data showed that overall, millennial parents’ income had remained largely flat over the past year.

Of households with annual income between $50,000 and $100,000, 7.6% reported a drop in income over the last year, while those earning more than $100,000 stayed flat.

However, respondents remained optimistic about the future. Millennial parents were likelier than the general population to say they would be “somewhat” or “significantly” more well-off 12 months from now.

Overall, millennial parents were more inclined toward shopping and spending. Forty-five percent of respondents without children said they rarely went shopping, compared with 29.5% of parents.

Parents were also more concerned about Internet privacy.

Twenty-nine percent of millennial parents said they used the Internet less because of privacy concerns, compared with 9.8% of non-parents.

At the same time, the data showed that millennial parents were willing to forgo certain privacy concerns if they were offered a deal or insider info.

Thirty-two percent of millennial parents wanted to hear about new products or services via email, versus 17.3% for millennials without children.

Likewise, just 2.5% of non-parents were “interested in receiving ads on their cell phones.” This jumped to 12.3% among parents.

Check out 4 Ways Advisors Can Help Single Parents Plan for Retirement, College on ThinkAdvisor.


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