Kids These Days: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

In recent years we’ve heard a lot about “Generation Me”—young people born between 1981 and 2000, which makes them 32 and under—who are constantly being characterized as selfish, having overinflated egos, no work ethic, and no empathy. Books, articles, TV shows, and every other kind of media insists that today’s young people are qualitatively different than young people of a few generations ago. But is that really true?
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Putting off Parenthood

Dear Mr. Dad: By the time my parents were my age (I’m 27), they already had three children. But I’m not married, don’t have any children, and don’t have any plans to. I know there’s been a trend over the past few decades towards having kids at a later age, but in talking with my friends—many of whom feel the same way I do—it seems that there might be a trend towards not having a family at all. Am I right?

A: You are absolutely right. Young people of your generation (Millennials—those born between 1982 and 2002) have some very different ideas about family than their parents and grandparents. Back in 1992, 78% of college grads (79% of women and 78% of men) had plans to either adopt or have children. Twenty years later, in 2002, just 42% (41% of women, 42% of men) intended to become parents. I honestly find that a little scary. With so many people choosing not to have children, who’s going to be making the Social Security contributions that will support those Millennials when they retire?
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