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25 ways millennial lives are different than their grandparents

  • 25 ways millennial lives are different than their grandparents

    Anyone who's read the news lately has heard about millennials “killing” a number of industries: vacations, beer, napkins, cereal, golf, and diamonds, to name a few. The consumption habits of the “kids these days” have changed from those of their grandparents, but the factors driving this change are varied and difficult to pinpoint. “Millennial” has long been a catch-all term for any young person, but the Pew Research Center tecently issued official cut-off dates for the millennial generation. Millennials are defined as those born between 1981 and 1996—meaning millennials aren't quite so young anymore.

    Now that the generation has been defined as those between 23 and 38, it becomes easier to figure out what exactly has changed in millennials' lifetimes, compared to the generations that came before them: Generation X (1965-1980), the baby boomers (1946-1964), and the silent generation (1928-1945). From the rapid advancement of technology to the aftermath of 9/11, their lives have been shaped by forces of social media, deep economic anxiety, and other unprecedented factors. This has spurred some of the generational disconnects and tension millennials feel toward their elders and vice versa, as well as the economic differences that have led millennials to “kill” all those industries in the first place.

    In order to explore these differences, Stacker compiled a list of significant ways that millennials' lives differ from those of their grandparents and even their parents. From the economic anxieties following the 2008 Great Recession to Supreme Court decisions that have led to a more open world, read on to find out the 25 biggest changes for this generation, who now represent the majority of the workforce, are becoming political leaders, and will shape the world for the generations to come.

    You may also like: 50 ways the American family has changed in the last 50 years

  • Home ownership

    A big house with a white picket fence may have been the goal for baby boomers, but millennials have had to set their sights a little lower. Most millennials came of age during the recession and real estate collapse of 2007 and 2008, and many have been forced to delay purchasing their first home thanks to high student loan debt, slow wage growth, and fewer single-family homes being built every year.

  • Higher education

    The economic benefit of a college degree has spurred increasing numbers of Americans to head to college. Millennials are the most educated generation to date; 36% of women and 29% of men ages 21 to 36 have completed a bachelor's degree, which is several percentage points higher than Generation X and the baby boomers. However, they're not seeing the same benefits from their education. The stagnating post-recession economy and soaring tuition rates have left millennials struggling to pay off huge student loan bills, plunging them into a debt crisis that has put their economic futures on hold.

  • Urbanization

    Millennials are happier in cities than their older counterparts, according to the recent study "No urban malaise for Millennials," published in the journal Regional Studies. And Pew Research found that nine in 10 millennials live in urban settings, compared to just two-thirds of the Silent Generation in 1965. Millennials are also 9% more likely to make their home in the concrete jungle than those of previous generations.

  • Progressive politics and voting

    Compared to the baby boomers and silent generation, millennials are far more likely to align themselves with the Democratic Party and generally hold views more aligned with the liberal or progressive voting blocs in the two-party system. Even right-leaning or Republican millennials show a tendency toward progressive policy stances (thanks to their generation's relative diversity and increased acceptance of LGBTQ+ minorities), according to the Pew Research Center. However, they are far less likely to vote than members of the baby boomers or silent generation at the same age, decreasing their voting power.

  • Diversity and interracial marriage

    Though Gen Z might soon replace them, millennials are the most diverse generation in history. Increased immigration from Asian and Latin American countries in the years since the 1950s and ‘60s have contributed significantly. However, there's another big difference between the lives of millennials and their baby boomer and silent generation counterparts: Interracial marriage is legal. Prior to the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, some states flatly banned marriage between those of different races. Today, attitudes toward interracial marriage are much more supportive, and one in six newlywed Americans in 2015 married someone of a different race.

  • LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance

    As baby boomers came of age, the Stonewall riots of 1969 brought new attention to the struggles of LGBTQ+ Americans. Sixty years later, millennials live in an entirely different world when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. The last laws banning same-sex sexual activity were overturned in 2003, and marriage equality became law in all 50 states in the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergerfell v. Hodges. Not only do LGBTQ+ millennials live in a world with more legal protections, but LGBTQ+ people are more accepted than they were half a century ago. Millennials have adopted new language that more fully expresses their gender identities and sexual orientations and, in general, they are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than those who came before them.

  • Interest in religion

    Religion plays a far more diminished role in the lives of millennials than it did for their grandparents. More and more Americans are religiously unaffiliated—22% in Pew's 2014 Religious Landscape Survey—and many who fall under that category are millennials. They're less likely to attend services, pray every day, or otherwise claim religion as a large part of their lives.

  • Marriage

    America's divorce rates are down, and we largely have millennials to thank for the change. The reason for this shift, however, stems from the changing face of marriage in America. While women of the silent generation married at the average age of 23 and men at 25, millennials are tying the knot at 27 and 29, respectively. Marriage has also become something of a “status symbol,” as more young people wait until they're financially stable to get married. Poorer millennials are more likely to cohabitate with their partners in the long term without tying the knot, leading to fewer couples getting married overall.

  • Social media

    One of the most obvious changes for the millennial generation is the rapid advancement of technology and, in particular, the rise of social media platforms. Young adults today grew up in a world of AOL Instant Messenger, Myspace, and later Facebook and Twitter. This allowed them to create social connections with people around the world but also to get their news in dramatically different ways, explore new and differing opinions, and share aspects of their lives with others. This may have fundamentally changed the way people interact with the world and those around them, for better or worse.

  • Television

    For previous generations, watching a TV show meant sitting in front of the television at a certain day and time, suffering through commercials. Millennials grew up in the age of DVR, and later Netflix and other streaming services. They've cut ties with cable companies in favor of binge watching all their favorite shows on demand. TV has also arguably gotten better in this new age of streaming: There are more options, production values are higher, and fans have found new ways to discuss their favorite shows through social media. 

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