Separating Millennial Myths From Reality

The most-dissected generation (yet, at least) is coming of age, and it's time to reevaluate assumptions about their place in the world.

May 5, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

Hyojung Lee separates myth from reality on the always-buzzy topic of Millennials—the largest, most diverse, most misunderstood generation in U.S. history.

Lee wrote a paper, “Are Millennials Leaving Town? Reconciling Peak Millennials and Youthification Hypotheses,” published earlier this year by the International Journal of Urban Sciences. The paper's findings debunk some of the myths about Millennial preferences, especially as the generation inches toward middle age.

Millennials, writes Lee, "delayed their transition into adulthood as compared to older generations, consistent with popular portrayals, but they have begun to catch up in recent years, with rising incomes and as they move from multifamily apartments to single-family homes."

Lee's blog post for the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the first of two promised posts, provides findings on four specific measures of the average Millennial: marital status, homeownership, average personal income, and multifamily residence share. According to Lee's finding, Millennials live up to their billing on marital status and multifamily residence share but are far more typical than perceive on homeownership and average personal income. The trend toward homeownership among Millennials is, at least, more recent.

Indeed, the homeownership rate at age 30 among the early millennials was about 41 percent, while it was 50.5 percent among Gen Xers and even higher among the early boomers (57.8 percent). However, as indicated in my co-authored paper, millennial homeownership has been rapidly catching up in recent years, narrowing the early millennial-Gen X gap from 9.5 percentage points at the age of 30 to 4.8 percentage points at the age of 34.

More detail about each of the four measures listed here and a few infographics are included in the source article.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

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