How Do Millennials Differ From Older Generations in Their Family Lives?

July 9, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Youth & Gen X

PewResearch Millennial Family Lives v Other Generations Jul2020Today’s family units are very different to those of previous years. Only 3 in 10 Millennials now live with a spouse and a child, compared to 40% of Gen-Xers and 46% of Boomers when they were the same age, finds a new a report from Pew Research Center using data from the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. The report, which examines the nature of family life among 23-to-38-year-olds, finds some distinct differences between this much-discussed age-group and older generations.

Per the report’s definition of Millennial, the oldest of this age group will turn 39 this year, signifying a movement into a chapter that typically involves having started a family. For marketers and advertisers, the difference in family structure can change buying habits. For example, the vast majority of parents state that their kids influence their buying decisions. In addition, parents are more frequent online shoppers.

In 1968, when the Silent generation was the equivalent age to Millennials now, a full 85% had a family of their own (living with a spouse, one’s own child or children, or both a spouse and child). Some 7 in 10 (69%) Boomers lived with a family in 1987, and a slightly lower share of Gen-Xers (66%) did so in 2003. The comparable figure for Millennials last year was 55%.

In particular, Millennials are far likely to be living in a traditional household featuring a spouse and child. Where 3 in 10 Millennials are living with a spouse and a child, some 7 in 10 Silents did at the same age. That said, the share of Millennials living with a spouse alone (13%) is very close to the share of Gen-Xers (13%), Boomers (14%) and Silents (12%) who were doing the same at the equivalent age. Compared to Gen-Xers, Millennials are more likely to cohabit (12% vs 8%) and less likely to be married (44% vs 53% respectively).

As with Gen-Xers at the same age, Millennials account for a high share of those living with a child and no spouse (12%) – just 4% of Silents were in this position in 1968. The survey does include biological, adopted and step-children in their definition, and it’s worth noting that Millennial women are less likely to have had a live birth (55%) than Gen-Xers (62%) and Boomers (64%) at their age.

In line with Millennials’ particular experience of the economy and housing market, this group also accounts for the highest share living with their parents (14%) or other family members (14%) of all generational groups analyzed.

Read more in the full report here.

About the Data: Results are based on findings from the Current Population Survey (CPS) from the US Census Bureau which surveys about 60,000 households.


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