Mike and Morley's Musings

Mar 02

Women Millennials Will Redefine Corporate Leadership

In 2008, as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought for the Democratic presidential nomination, many baby boomer women did not understand how a majority of their millennial daughters and granddaughters could support a man against the first woman in history with a realistic chance of winning the White House.

In reality, the readiness of these young women to base their votes on something other than the sex of the candidates was a sign of their strength and self-determination. Bolstered by legislation such as Title IX, which required equality of the sexes in the administration of public education, those boomers created a cohort of high-achieving, confident young women.

Already millennial women are taking their rightful place among America’s leaders. Soon they will begin to help redefine what it means to be an effective leader in the 21st century.

Millennials have overwhelmingly turned their backs on conventional notions about the place of women in society, making their generation the most gender neutral, if not female driven, in U.S. history. 

A 2009 Pew survey indicated that 84 percent of millennials disagreed that “women should return to their traditional roles in society,” with two-thirds (67 percent) completely disagreeing with the idea. Last fall 82 percent of Millennials told Pew that the trend toward more women in the American workforce has been a “change for the better.”

Their generation is the first in U.S. history in which women are more likely to attend college and professional school than are men. Women are also more likely to receive bachelor’s degrees than men. By 2016, they are projected to earn 64 percent of associate’s degrees, 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 63 percent of master’s degrees, and 56 percent of doctorates. But despite of their greater representation in the student body, the number of women holding college student government office continues to lag behind men. “At the 50 colleges ranked highest by U.S. News & World Report, less than a third of student presidents are women.”

The Great Debate

In the end, however, the greatest contribution of Millennial women to American leadership may not be simply in holding formal positions, but in helping to redefine its very nature.

In 1964, Warren Bennis and Philip Slater, argued that corporate leadership characteristics would have to be altered to survive in a period of increasing social change in their Harvard Business Review article titled, “Democracy is Inevitable.” They cited five traits that would define corporate success in the future:

  1. Full and free communication, regardless of rank and power.

  2. A reliance on consensus to manage conflict.

  3. Influence based on competence and knowledge, not personal whims or prerogatives of power.

  4. An atmosphere that encourages emotional expressions as well as task-oriented acts.

  5. A human bias, willing to cope and mediate conflict between the organization and the individual.

In the intervening fifty years, Boomer parents have raised a generation of women whose attitudes and beliefs are best suited to exercising the style of leadership Bennis accurately predicted would come to dominate organizations in the future.   

As social media technology constantly drives down the cost of communicating and increases the freedom and flexibility of each worker, hierarchical top down, command and control organizations are being increasingly supplanted by horizontal structures in which effective leadership depends on creating trust, coordinating innovation, cultivating creativity, and building consensus.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/millennial-women-will-redefine-what-it-means-to-be-the-boss-2012-2#ixzz1nvdLSZn1

Women Millennials Will Redefine Corporate Leadership

In 2008, as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought for the Democratic presidential nomination, many baby boomer women did not understand how a majority of their millennial daughters and granddaughters could support a man against the first woman in history with a realistic chance of winning the White House.

In reality, the readiness of these young women to base their votes on something other than the sex of the candidates was a sign of their strength and self-determination. Bolstered by legislation such as Title IX, which required equality of the sexes in the administration of public education, those boomers created a cohort of high-achieving, confident young women.

Already millennial women are taking their rightful place among America’s leaders. Soon they will begin to help redefine what it means to be an effective leader in the 21st century.

Millennials have overwhelmingly turned their backs on conventional notions about the place of women in society, making their generation the most gender neutral, if not female driven, in U.S. history. 

A 2009 Pew survey indicated that 84 percent of millennials disagreed that “women should return to their traditional roles in society,” with two-thirds (67 percent) completely disagreeing with the idea. Last fall 82 percent of Millennials told Pew that the trend toward more women in the American workforce has been a “change for the better.”

Their generation is the first in U.S. history in which women are more likely to attend college and professional school than are men. Women are also more likely to receive bachelor’s degrees than men. By 2016, they are projected to earn 64 percent of associate’s degrees, 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 63 percent of master’s degrees, and 56 percent of doctorates. But despite of their greater representation in the student body, the number of women holding college student government office continues to lag behind men. “At the 50 colleges ranked highest by U.S. News & World Report, less than a third of student presidents are women.”

The Great Debate

In the end, however, the greatest contribution of Millennial women to American leadership may not be simply in holding formal positions, but in helping to redefine its very nature.

In 1964, Warren Bennis and Philip Slater, argued that corporate leadership characteristics would have to be altered to survive in a period of increasing social change in their Harvard Business Review article titled, “Democracy is Inevitable.” They cited five traits that would define corporate success in the future:

  1. Full and free communication, regardless of rank and power.

  2. A reliance on consensus to manage conflict.

  3. Influence based on competence and knowledge, not personal whims or prerogatives of power.

  4. An atmosphere that encourages emotional expressions as well as task-oriented acts.

  5. A human bias, willing to cope and mediate conflict between the organization and the individual.

In the intervening fifty years, Boomer parents have raised a generation of women whose attitudes and beliefs are best suited to exercising the style of leadership Bennis accurately predicted would come to dominate organizations in the future.   

As social media technology constantly drives down the cost of communicating and increases the freedom and flexibility of each worker, hierarchical top down, command and control organizations are being increasingly supplanted by horizontal structures in which effective leadership depends on creating trust, coordinating innovation, cultivating creativity, and building consensus.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/millennial-women-will-redefine-what-it-means-to-be-the-boss-2012-2#ixzz1nvdLSZn1

Mar 01

Millennials Want to Do Well by Doing Good

Members of the Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) differ sharply with older generations on what constitutes success in life. Consider the Life is good Playmakers, the nonprofit organization of the Life is good Company, where Steve Gross holds the title of Chief Playmaker.

“Play is serious business,” says Gross, a social worker who is on a mission is to help kids overcome life-threatening challenges. ““Millions of our nation’s youngest children have experienced profound trauma in its many forms, including domestic violence, abuse, neglect, natural disasters, and severe poverty.”

So last summer, Gross and his band of millennials jumped into their lime-green cars and traveled 1,200 miles in 30 days to spread the power of joy and optimism to thousands of children from Boston to New Orleans. Click here to read more.

The Playmakers are part of a GenY trend.

While all generations are about equally likely to name “being a good parent” and “having a successful marriage” as important markers of success, young people are much more likely also to mention doing work that benefits society and having a high-paying job as important life achievements.

True to their penchant for multitasking and their ability to reconcile conflicting viewpoints, many Millennials do not see any contradiction in seeking to achieve both goals simultaneously.

In fact, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, showed that twice as many respondents under 35 years old (15%) named “being successful in a high-paying career or profession” one of the most important things in life, compared to only 7 percent among those 35 and older.

An even greater percentage of young people (22%) said “having a job/career that benefits society” was one of the most important things in life; by contrast, only 14 percent of older respondents mentioned that as one of their life’s goals. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of 18- to 34-year-olds were confident they would achieve their goals, with young African-Americans expressing the most optimism (70%).

These attitudes were most prominent among the very youngest adults. More than three-quarters (76%) of 18- to 24-year-olds said getting a high-paying career or profession was one of the most important things or a very important thing to accomplish, while only about half (51%) of 25- to 34-year-olds rated this measure of success so highly.

Having a job or career that benefits society was even more important to 18- to 24-year-olds (79%), a belief shared by a smaller, but still impressive, two-thirds of those 25-34.

The most recent Higher Education Research Institute’s annual survey of incoming college freshmen confirms that this attitude continues to permeate the Millennial Generation.

Almost 80 percent cited being financially well-off as an essential or very important objective in life. Seventy percent also named helping others who are in difficulty as a life goal. Raising a family, mentioned by 73 percent, was the only other objective to reach this level of importance.

Are you surprised?

Older generations, particularly Generation X (born 1965-1981), reading these results will immediately argue that Millennials are naive in thinking they can both serve society and score big in the personal income sweepstakes.

For those who view Millennials through the lens of their own generational filters, Millennial Generation attitudes toward success appear to be filled with impossible demands and unrealistic expectations.

But as brilliantly documented in James Marshall Reilly’s book,Shake the World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life, Millennials are busy changing how we think about earning a living in a way that makes attaining both goals simultaneously completely realistic.

Whether its Blake Mycoskie creating the company TOMS shoes, which gives a pair of shoes to needy children around the world for every pair his company sells, or Elizabeth McKee Gore, the executive director of Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation, who first rose to prominence when she started the Great American Bake Sale to fight world hunger—Millennials are beginning to transform the very nature of capitalism and what it means to live and work within that system.

Reilly predicts the generation will create an economic future “based on a goods-and-services substitution model in which traditional, everyday purchases yield philanthropic and humanitarian dividends.”

The Bottom Line

Whether the future plays out exactly the way Reilly (pictured right) envisions or not, it is clear that Millennials’ penchant for doing well by doing good will have a major impact on America’s economic structure.

At a time when Millennials cite the State Department more often than Disney as an “ideal employer,” and they name Teach for America as a more desired place to work than Electronic Arts, the need is clear for every company in America to respond to the desire of Millennials to contribute to society even as they earn a paycheck.

The growth of corporate social entrepreneurship and “philanthrocapitalism” will, in the years ahead, enable Millennials to have successful careers and, at the same time, make the world a better place.

Feb 21

Oscars Favorites Discover Millennials as Boomer Marriage Counselors

Two Oscar favorites this year focus on the role of strong, young Millennial Generation daughters trying to heal the wounds of their Boomer parents’ marriages in two widely separated, very different cultures. Both films use the relationship of father and daughter — not mother and daughter — to bring a contemporary sensibility to the challenges of marriage.

 

A Separation shows the difficulties of family life in urban Iran, while the other, The Descendants, takes place in the idyllic setting of suburban Hawaii. Despite these differences in settings, by resting their dramatic tension on this often unexplored family relationship, both movies signal the coming of age of the Millennial Generation and the increasing centrality of its attitudes and beliefs in American life.

Boomers (born 1946-1964) brought the nation’s divorce rate to a historic high of one out of every two marriages. Most of their children have grown up living in single-parent home or at least are friends with someone who has. As a result, 50% of Millennials (born 1982-2003) say that “being a good parent” is their single highest priority in life. Couple that attitude with the relative dominance of females within the generation and you have the perfect recipe for the plot of The Descendants.

In the film, one of George Clooney’s two daughters, is played by Shailene Woodley, the star of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” a program whose popularity among Millennials has resulted in an unprecedented five-year run on the channel. The Descendants begins in earnest when Woodley informs Clooney of his wife’s — her mother’s — infidelity, and then, using all of her generation’s philosophy on “how to handle stuff,” helps guide her father’s ultimate reconciliation with his life’s decisions and with those of the people around him.

While generational birth years and characteristics don’t readily translate across the boundaries of culture and religion, the importance of children in Iran, a country in which 70% of the population is under 30, comes across very clearly in A Separation, the odds-on favorite for best foreign film at this year’s Academy Awards. Eleven-year-old Termeh is the one thing that is holding her parent’s dysfunctional family together. Both of Termeh’s parents demonstrate the personal stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise that Americans recognize in our own Boomer Generation’s behavior and attitudes. Even when her parents give up all hope of saving their marriage, they still leave it up to Termeh, the only person in the film with any wisdom, to determine her own custodial rights.

Two other Oscar contenders, Martin Scorcese’s masterpiece, Hugo and Incredibly Close and Extremely Loud, featuring Tom Hanks, also have strong performances by Millennial-aged actors. But the very similar plot lines of these two movies do not have a Millennial Generation point of view about families and the role of women. Even though Hugo is set in a Depression-era Paris train station, andIncredibly Close in post 9/11 New York, in each film a son tries to figure out a mystery his dead father has left behind.

A son attempting to understand his father and live up to his father’s expectations, however, is a time-worn plot, more typical of an earlier era. Despite the technical brilliance of Hugo, neither film is expected to garner top honors from the Academy. Instead, just as “Modern Family” and its diverse ensemble cast has recently dominated the Emmys for TV sitcoms, the Oscars are much more likely to look with favor on this year’s two films that have Millennial daughters and Boomer dads at the core of their story lines and casts.

In so doing, Hollywood will take a major step toward recognizing an emerging generation whose size and unity of belief is likely to dominate American society and culture for decades to come. By 2020, more than one of three American adults will be a Millennial, a cohort in which two-thirds agree on the answers to almost every question in most surveys. Now if the industry could only figure out a way of attracting Millennials to movie theaters as well as including them in its scripts, Hollywood would have an even brighter story to tell about its own future.

Oscars Favorites Discover Millennials as Boomer Marriage Counselors -

On Sunday night, Hollywood may bestow its highest honor on two important films and take a major step toward recognizing an emerging generation whose size and unity of belief is likely to dominate American society and culture for decades to come.

Feb 10

Occupy is making a difference – USATODAY.com

Feb 04

Millennials and the Future of Books

Everyone knows the Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) is obsessed with electronic media—video games, social networking, and MP3 players. But few recognize that this obsession extends to books in ways that are both saving and transforming the publishing industry.

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8- to 18-year old Millennials spent 43 percent more time interacting with various forms of media in 2009 than they did in 1999.

Yet during this period, almost half (46%) of the Millennials surveyed spent at least part of their day reading books, a percentage that remained steady throughout the decade. Even as computer usage quadrupled for these teens and tweens and video-game playing more than tripled, books remained of interest to a generation often accused of being more interested in texting than writing, and more likely to use an iPod than a Kindle.

We bet you can guess the one big reason for this counter-intuitive behavior.

That’s right. The Harry Potter books. The seven volumes in the series have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide since 1997, when the first title in the series was published.

Along with other appealing elements, the books’ setting provides young readers an opportunity to explore all the generational tensions Millennials face. The teachers and administrators at Hogwarts, the prep school for wizards that J.K.Rowling so brilliantly imagined, are Baby Boomers.

Like many members of this generation, each of these adult characters are individualistic, judgmental egotists who talk more than they act and whose ultimate motivations are impossible for Harry and his friends to discern.

In fact, members of Generation X, sandwiched between Boomers and Millennials, provide both the greatest source of friendship and the most existential threats to Potter and his fellow Millennials.

One X’er, Hagrid, is always around to try and help as an older sibling might be; but another, Lord Voldemort, is the source of all evil. The need to avenge the Dark Lord’s murder of Harry’s parents provides the dynamic for all seven of the books.

Harry and his friends work hard to do their best within the rules Boomers create for them, and in the end are able to use their special ingenuity to save the world by waving their magic wands. No wonder there are now 60 chapters of the Harry Potter Alliance in the real world, dedicated to assisting the more than 100,000 members of Dumbledore’s Army to “work for human rights, equality, and a better world.”

But Harry Potter has influenced more than just Millennials’ belief in how the world works.

The fact that there are seven books in the series, each longer and more complicated than the previous one, created an approach to reading that reflects the way in which young Millennials interact with video games.

Just as each level of a game calls for increased effort and greater understanding of the game’s structure, many Millennials celebrate each time they finish a book by proudly displaying the volumes, one-by-one, on their bookshelf.

This formula of a gradually unfolding and increasingly complex setting and narrative has been copied with great success byStephenie Meyer, whose Twilight series about vampires and young love has attracted an equally dedicated set of female Millennials.

Another popular author named Rick Riordan has gone one step further and created three different series, all based on mythology, that are very popular with young male readers.

Authors who wish to tap into the generation’s book-reading habits need to imagine not just a single book with a single story line, but an entire universe suitable for telling stories over multiple books with a publishing horizon as long as a decade. The fact that this type of storytelling is perfect for the TV and movie industries and its dependency on reliable sequels ensures that this approach is likely to dominate the book industry for the entire lifespan of the Millennial Generation.

The general belief that Millennials don’t read books is often accompanied by a sad commentary on the reading skills of the generation.

But once again, popular wisdom has it backward. Reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress(NAEP), have actually been rising for the last decade.

What’s more, the gains among students in America’s major cities have outpaced the nation’s overall progress. Fourth grade readers in urban schools scored nine points higher in 2011 than in 2002, triple the rate of progress nationally.

Eighth grade reading scores were up four points in these same school districts, four times the overall progress measured by these standardized tests.

Harry Potter and other popular series targeted at Millennials have helped to improve the literacy of an entire generation. With that foundation in place, the joy of reading books is likely to outlast the popular misconceptions of America’s next great generation.

Jan 23

Crowdsourcing the Congress: Wikipedia’s Blackout Bomb

The debate over legislation to stop online piracy revealed not only the threat that a new generation of consumers presents to the entertainment industry’s traditional business model, but the equally shaky future of the way Congress currently conducts its business. The high tech, Internet-based companies that Hollywood most fears used their clout with America’s most coveted customers, young Millennials, to stop a rush to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and its Senate twin, Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

The success of the Wikipedia-led Internet blackout demonstrated the way Congress goes about its business is as susceptible as the entertainment industry’s business model is to disruption from the energy and attitudes of a new, digitally native generation, Millennials (born 1982-2003). The film and television industry’s foundation, built on the notion that content will triumph ṻber alles, was shown to be just as prone to destruction by the Napster virus as its cousin in the recording industry was a decade ago. It turns out that consumers like companies that distribute content, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, more than they like the companies who produce and package the content and insist on being paid for it. 

But the fact that many in Congress suddenly abandoned their support of SOPA or PIPA in the face of this consumer revolt also sent a clear warning to those pushing the bills, using traditional methods of high-priced lobbying and closed-door decision making, that their way of doing business is equally in jeopardy. Wikipedia’s blackout Facebook page was liked or shared around 1.2 million times on the Wednesday that the site was unavailable to potential visitors. A petition organized by Google in opposition gained over seven million signatures. When Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced on Facebook that he was withdrawing his support for PIPA, his action generated 4,700 likes. Between midnight and 4 p.m. on the day of the “blackout bomb”, Twitter recorded over 2.4 million tweets on the subject. The Internet community’s insistence on a more open decision making process forced the Congress to ultimately abandon its confrontational, large-contributor approach to the problem. If Congress actually learns a larger lesson from this experience and adopts a process that incorporates the Millennial Generation’s desire for win-win solutions derived from bottom up participation designed to forge a consensus, it might finally reverse the continuing decline in popularity with their customers — the American electorate.

Today, all national surveys show approval of Congress at historically low levels. Since the Republic was conceived, communication technologies have evolved to reduce the time and distance that separate Congress from the public, but most of Congress’s procedures and practices have remained trapped in a time warp of its own traditions. Creating a new connection between citizens and their representatives by using Millennials’ favorite technologies to build a more transparent, open and participatory legislative process is the essential first step in reversing this decline in Congress’s credibility
This alternative approach to the legislative process was actually utilized by Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon) and Republican U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (California) in drafting theiralternative to SOPA/PIPA. The two lawmakers published a draft of their approach last year on the web at www.KeepTheWebOpen.com and asked for comments from interested parties. Based on the suggestions of those who visited the site, they proposed a bi-partisan alternative — the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN Act — that uses a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer to address the problem. It empowers the U.S. International Trade Commission to cut off the money supply of the several dozen foreign piracy sites that do most of the damage to content creators.

Although Internet companies and online activists liked both the process and the outcome, organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) continued to insist that the danger presented by those sites to their business model is so great that they can’t wait for the niceties of legalities and due process that the Wyden/Issa solution would involve. The fact that the entertainment industry’s solution is perceived to be so threatening to the freedom of users of the Internet that it united libertarians on both the left and right in opposition to SOPA/PIPA has not dissuaded those wedded to the old ways of doing business in Congress that they need to change their tactics. Their stubbornness is reminiscent of the attempt by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to halt the proliferation of peer-to-peer music sharing sites by suing its teenage customers, before RIAA finally gave up and acquiesced in a new business model for the industry built around Apple’s iPod.

It’s time for Congressional leaders to use the learning experience of the SOPA/PIPA debate to throw off their generational blinders and find a way to concede power gracefully to a new generation with new ideas. To restore its credibility, Congress will have to use new tools to fully involve Millennials and older generations in the decision-making process. It should make a new bargain with the American people, built on an increased level of citizen participation in the process of governing, rather than upon the current trade of access and constituency service in return for campaign contributions.

Only when Congress embraces this new way of doing business will the legitimacy of the country’s legislative process begin to be restored and Congress’s approval ratings start to rise again. Until then the electoral fate of Senators and U.S. Representatives will be as uncertain and as subject to disruption as the future of the entertainment moguls they sought to please by backing SOPA/PIPA. 

Jan 16

"The Supreme Court Follows the Election Returns"

As Mr. Dooley, Peter Finley Dunne’s astute Irish-American barkeep, observed over a century ago, politics rather than legal precedent, makes it likely the United States Supreme Court will negate the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) this year. Every 80 years, the Supreme Court has decisively entered a sharply divided political process to provide its own answer to the fundamental question of American politics: what is the scope and purpose of government?  Each time, it has attempted to reinforce the generational and party alignments of a previous era in the face of challenges from the beliefs and partisan preferences of an emerging civic-oriented generation like today’s Millennials (born 1982-2003). This eighty year cycle is due to be repeated in 2012.   

The first time the Court attempted to authoritatively resolve an ongoing, deeply divisive political conflict and reaffirm the political arrangements of a previous era was in the dreadful 1857 Dred Scottdecision.  Before the Court issued its infamous dictum in this case, Congress had struck a careful balance between pro- and anti-slavery forces with the Missouri Compromise of 1820.  Based on that agreement, states were admitted to the Union in pairs—one slave and one free. Eventually, driven by the uncompromising ideological beliefs of the Transcendental Generation (born 1792-1821), which were as sharply divided as today’s Baby Boomers, continued accommodation became impossible.  In Dred Scott, the Court attempted to impose its own solution by declaring the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. Its ruling, in effect, made slavery legal throughout the entire country and denied citizenship to blacks, even those who were free.

Of the nine justices who ruled on the case, four were members of the Transcendental Generation and a fifth was born in 1790, on the cusp of generational change. Seven were from the era’s dominant Democratic Party. Five of the seven who decided against Dred Scott were from slave states. It was not until President Abraham Lincoln appointed a majority of justices consisting primarily of Republicans from Union states, that the Court’s regional, generational, and partisan composition changed.  During the administrations of Lincoln and his successors, the Court ratified the new governing arrangements that had been achieved in the Civil War.

The same pattern emerged again eight decades later.  The argument over the nation’s political fundamentals now dealt with the extent and type of governmental intervention in an industrial economy.  In 1935 and 1936, the Supreme Court rallied to protect the old order of laissez faire economics in response to a range of governmentally activist New Deal laws enacted by Franklin Roosevelt and a Democratic Congress with the overwhelming support of America’s newest civic generation, the GI Generation.

 Justices Butler, McReynolds, Sutherland, and Van Devanter—nicknamed the “Four Horsemen of Reaction”—often joined with one of the Court’s centrist justices to rule against the core components of the New Deal. Seven of the justices, including three of the Four Horsemen, were of the ideologically-driven Missionary Generation (born 1860-1882). A like number were from the Republican Party that dominated electoral politics from the Civil War to the Great Depression.

It took the political message delivered by FDR’s record-breaking reelection in 1936 to persuade the centrist justices to consistently side with the president and the Court’s liberal “Three Musketeers” by accepting the constitutionality of New Deal laws. Retirements and mortality allowed Roosevelt to appoint eight of nine justices by the time he died in 1945, thereby giving the Court a very different generational and partisan cast.  

Today, all of the factors that shaped the Supreme Court’s actions in 1857 and in the

1930s are once more in place. Political figures ranging from Barack Obama  to Newt 

Gingrich remind us that America is again poised to answer the eternal question of the

role and size of government. A new civic generation, the Millennials, is emerging with

the potential to dominate and reshape politics in the next four decades. Like the GI

Generation, Millennials strongly support a reformist Democratic president, favoring

Barack Obama against his potential 2012 opponents by about the same 2:1 margin

as they did in 2008. As in the past, the generational and partisan composition of the Supreme Court reflects an earlier era. Five of the justices, including a majority of its conservative bloc (Roberts, Thomas, and Alioto) are Boomers (born 1946-1964). The rest are members of the even older Silent Generation (born 1925-1945). A majority are Republicans.

When the Court rules on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, it will be

judging legislation about which generations sharply disagree.

Two-thirds of Millennials want the Affordable Care Act either to be expanded (44%) or

left as is (23%). By contrast, clear pluralities of Boomers (44%) and Silents (46%)

want “Obamacare” to be repealed. 

If history is any guide, the Supreme Court will rule against a civic generation and a president that generation so strongly supports. But, history also tells us that may not be the end of the story. The Millennial Generation is the largest ever. Millennials now comprise one-fourth of American adults; by 2020 it will be more than one-third. To the extent that this large cohort is able to bring a new “civic ethos” to American democracy, the Court is likely to adhere to another historical precedent by moving beyond the doctrines of an earlier era and accepting those of a new generation. The results of the 2012 election will go a long way toward determining if and when that happens. 

 

Jan 02

Millennials Turn Thirty: Now What?

In 1987, as the oldest members of the Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) were entering kindergarten, the groundbreaking television show, Thirtysomething, began its Emmy-award-winning, four-year run.

The one-hour drama focused on eight Baby Boomers struggling with the conflicting demands of work and family as the generation known for its rebelliousness attempted to settle into the culture and routine of suburban life.

January 2012 marks the date that these “first Millennials” will be 30 years old. For the next two decades, America’s most populous and diverse generation, defined in its teens and 20s by its penchant for social networking and sharing, will enter the phase of life when the choices dramatized in “Thirtysomething” will become central to their generation’s persona.

But, the world Millennial families will be entering is considerably different than the go-go 80s that the Boomers portrayed in “Thirtysomething” enjoyed.

The most obvious dissimilarity between the young Boomers of the 1980s and today’s Millennials is the vastly different economic circumstances that the two generations have experienced.

In one respect, those turning 30 in 2012 are considered the “lucky ones” by their peers. Many of them graduated college and began searching for work before the Great Recession started, enabling these first Millennials to enjoy much higher levels of employment and better paying jobs than those who came later.

Nevertheless, many of the oldest Millennials feel the same burden of college debt and diminished economic prospects as their younger peers. A recent Pew Research study found the average net worth of households headed by those under 35 fell from $11,521 in 1984 to just $3,662 in 2009, a drop of 68 percent. These are hardly the assets required to buy a home or undertake raising a family.

It is not surprising, therefore, that another Pew study found most Millennials postponing marriage until later in life than earlier generations. 

The median age of first marriages has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to U.S. Census data.

“Thirtysomething’s” focus on the difficulties of married life and the burdens of work among young Boomers made sense in the 1980s when a large majority of American adults were married, and unemployment was lower than it is now.

To be realistic, a show about today’s thirtysomething Millennials would have to include the travails of living in their parents’ house and trying to make ends meet on a part-time job.

Still, those Millennials who can afford it, and some who can’t, will inevitably provide the impetus for family formation in America as they enter their 30s.

A majority of Millennials (52%) consider being a good parent the most important priority in their life. Owning their own home (30%) and having a successful marriage (20%) also rank high on their list of key lifestyle goals and values.

When they do raise a family, in whatever diverse living arrangements they may choose, the greatest number will want to settle in the suburbs. According to a survey by communication research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, 43 percent of Millennials consider the suburbs their “ideal place” to live while cities, small towns, and rural America were each chosen by only 17 percent. 

The Bottom Line

Given these Millennial residential preferences and the cohort’s restricted economic circumstances, the current trend toward three generations living under the same roof is also likely to continue.

Because of their size and uniformity of belief, the Millennials will remake America in their image in the coming decades. They have already begun to do so in politics and technology.

Starting in 2012, their influence will begin to be felt in the institution most central to the country’s social and economic life—America’s families. How Millennial families are formed and how they decide to live will determine what it means to be thirtysomething for the first half of the 21st century.