In the days of Gen X, a person typically got married and bought a house while still in their 20s. These days, many 20-somethings are still living at home, and fewer of them than ever before are getting married. Both weddings and home ownership are being delayed or skipped altogether like no generation before – something that sets millennials apart from their elders in terms of both lifestyle and economics. The chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, Jason Furman, recently spoke about the effect that these trends have had on the economy – in short, that the post-recession housing recovery in America has been sluggish as a result of young people not buying homes as they once did.
Reuters reports that there is a direct link between unemployment rates and millennials living at home – quite simply, if you can’t get a job, you may not be able to afford rent, let alone be able to buy a house of your own. Another factor is the increase in post-secondary education, which often leads to substantial student debt (another road block to home ownership). As Reuters points out, this doesn’t mean that millennials will never own homes – instead, they are buying homes later than their parents and grandparents did.
Gen Y also has the lowest rate of marriage by age 40 than any other generation, at a rate which is approximately double that of Gen X. This seems to boil down to two main factors: first, marriage has been decreasing in popularity for years, with a growing number of couples choosing to live together and raise families without a legal wedding. Secondly, while marriage used to be considered one of the first steps in adulthood, it is now more common for young people to become established in their career and financial situation before getting married. Many Gen Y’ers are focused on climbing the corporate ladder, paying off student debt and purchasing property individually before marrying their partner, if they marry at all. This became especially true during the recession, when marriage rates dropped significantly. Because Gen Y is still so young, it can’t be said exactly what percentage will marry by age 40 – however, if trends continue as they have, it will be dramatically less than Gen X, which will have interesting consequences on both long term lifestyle and the economy.