Millennials are a favorite topic of magazine cover stories, psychological studies, marketing trend reports, and Baby Boomer complaints. The Millennial generation is often characterized as narcissistic, technology-obsessed, social media-driven, and, of course, student debt-burdened. But there’s plenty to Millennials beyond what you see in the headlines. Here are 26 facts about the often-misunderstood generation.
1 Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. While the definition of a Millennial varies, the Pew Research Center defines a Millennial as someone born between 1981 and 1996. That means that while “Millennial” is often used as a shorthand for “young person,” the oldest members of the cohort are now in their late 30s.
2 The term Millennial was coined in 1991 by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss in their book Generations. They decided on the label based on the fact that older Millennials would be graduating high school in 2000.
3 Millennials love to read. In 2016, they read an average of five books per year, compared to the four books the general population, on average, reads. Millennials are also more likely to visit public libraries than other generations, and despite their tech-obsessed reputation, they’re more likely to read print books than e-books.
4 Millennials often get blamed for “killing” certain industries (though that may be due to their status as the “brokest generation”). For better or for worse, the Millennial generation has been accused of killing mayonnaise, shopping malls, paper napkins, the McDonald’s Big Mac, and much more. The generation has also been blamed for falling birth rates and homeownership rates. It’s not all bad news, though: Millennials have also been cited as the demographic behind America’s falling divorce rate.
5 Millennials are already prepping for retirement. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report found that 82 percent of Millennials contribute to their employer-sponsored 401(k) plan—a higher rate than either their Gen X or Baby Boomer counterparts.
6 But Millennials have less wealth than older generations did at the same age. The median net worth of a Millennial-headed household in 2016 was only $12,500, while Gen X households had a median net worth of $15,100 when that cohort was in the 20- to 35-year-old age range.
7 Many Millennials still receive financial support from their parents. According to a 2019 Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey, seven out of 10 adults between the ages of 18 and 34 still rely on their parents for some kind of financial support. High levels of student and credit card debt play a role; a 2018 survey of 600 Millennials found that the average debt load was $42,000. Millennials are also more likely to live at home with their parents than previous generations did at the same age.