The Not-So-Bright Side of Millennials

Guess which group is losing faith in the American Dream? Washington Post Wonkblog reporters Jim Tankersley and Scott Clement write on a Fusion 2016 Issues Poll released December 1 that surveys millennials on their chances for upward mobility.

2 minute read

December 2, 2015, 10:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

Young Crowd

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"(Y)oung workers today are significantly more pessimistic about the possibility of success in America than their counterparts were in 1986, according to a new Fusion 2016 Issues poll reported in conjunction with The Washington Post," write Jim Tankersley and Scott Clement.

That rise in pessimism among millennials is concentrated among white people. It is most pronounced among whites who did not earn a college degree.

The comparison to 1986 comes "from a Roper/Wall Street Journal poll of young Americans" conducted that year. The Fusion poll replicates it so as to compare attitudes of today's millennials with the same age group 29 years ago. Unlike whites, "(t)he poll found no statistically significant change among young Americans of color over the decades," note Tankersley and Clement.

In 1986, they were about twice as likely as whites to say the American Dream does not exist. Now, the groups are about equally pessimistic.

As has been reported here, "(m)illennials in general define the dream differently than Generation Xers did in the 80s," write the reporters.

Today's young people are less likely to say owning a home or having "freedom of choice in how to live one's life" and the ability to become wealthy are part of the American Dream. They are more likely to say that starting a business was part of the dream; [ ...] that item topped millennials' list of possible American Dream components.

"And one of the big components of the American dream—the pursuit of wealth—is also losing ground among young people," writes Fusion's Katie McDonough. "Becoming wealthy ranked dead last—listed by just 29% of young people as very much part of the American Dream, down from 40% in 1986."

Click on the graphics showing the top three goals of young people in 1986 and today.

Hat tip: Michael Keenly

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 in The Washington Post Wonkblog

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