Cover story -- Odyssey years
This week's stories | Home Page
Issue Date:  December 28, 2007

Studies put Millennials under the microscope

Spanning the late teens to late 20s in age, the Millennials, America’s newest adult cohort, are inspiring a staggering amount of discussion and research. Sociologists, cultural commentators and maybe especially parents are eager to find out who they are, what they believe, and what on earth they are doing with their lives.

Research indicates that Millennials -- alternately called Generation Y, Generation Next, and Generation Me -- view the workplace differently from previous generations. Millennials are willing to forego work for parental support when they don’t find jobs commensurate with their lofty ideals and personal goals. A study released in May by the HSBC banking group shows that more than a quarter of American 22- to 29-year-olds depend on parents to pay for “major expenses.” A Pew survey in January showed that just 21 percent of “Gen Nexters” born after 1980 consider themselves very likely to work their whole career for their current employer.

Yet Millennials are ambitious. They frequently name wealth and fame as important life goals. Correspondingly, they marry later. An influential study by Brookings fellow William Galston pegs the 2006 median age of marriage at 27.5 for men (up from 24.7 in 1980), and 25.5 for women (22.0 in 1980). According to the Pew survey, the majority of 18- to 25-year-olds use Facebook or MySpace -- Web sites where users create personal profiles to self-promote and self-express.

Sharing mental space with their individualistic concerns are their strong humanitarian interests. A fall 2007 survey from Harvard’s Institute of Politics asserts that 62 percent of four-year college students and 65 percent of graduate students participate in community service, and of those involved, over half do so at least once a month.

Catholic Millennials are no exception. In a recent survey of Catholic college students by William D’Antonio and Vincent Bolduc, 82 percent rated “helping others in difficulty” and “participating by volunteering and community service” as very important.

In religious matters, Catholic Millennials mirror their generation’s sense of cultural relativism. In the D’Antonio-Bolduc survey, only 19 percent attribute a “greater share of truth” to Catholicism than to other religions.

-- Greg Ruehlmann

National Catholic Reporter, December 28, 2007

This Week's Stories | Home Page | Top of Page
Copyright  © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO   64111
All rights reserved.
TEL:  816-531-0538     FAX:  1-816-968-2280   Send comments about this Web site to: