A new U.S. Census Bureau report highlights the ways that millennials differ from other generations.
An FKD Feature exclusive

The most recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau found an incredible change in millennial milestones. When compared to past generations, millennials have a completely different outlook on what it means to be an adult.


For one of its studies, the U.S. Census Bureau created a list of significant milestones, such as completing school and getting married. The data was collected from people ages 18 to 35, and the data suggested that there is a big difference in the way millennials define adulthood when compared to past generations.

While more than half of millennials find completing school, being employed full-time or being capable of supporting a family financially to be important milestones, more than  half of those people thought of marriage or having a child as unimportant in defining adulthood.  

This shows that millennials have shifted their focus to work and education over family. But while they may have their minds in the right place, the study also shows that millennials are taking longer than any other generation to reach these milestones.

Reaching the milestones

In order to compare milestones in 1975 and 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau took four common milestones of adulthood and found the most common combinations that people ages 25 to 34 had completed. The results showed significant differences not only in the percent of people who completed the combinations, but also in the way the combinations varied.

In 1975, 45 percent of people completed all four milestones (lived away from parents, ever married, lived with a child and were in the labor force). That number dropped to 24 percent in 2016. In the same way, the percent of people who completed three of these milestones (lived away from parents, ever married and lived with a child) dropped from 22 percent in 1975 to 8 percent in 2016.

But while it all looked downhill, there has actually been an increase in the percent of people who have completed two of the milestones (lived away from parents and worked in the labor force). This went from 6 percent in 1975 to 23 percent in 2016.

The U.S. Census Bureau suggests that such a difference between 1975 and 2016 has to do with the diversity among young adults and the different economic circumstances they face.

Economic circumstances

Economic circumstances have the ability to shape anyone’s decision-making. A main reason why people put off marriage or moving out is because they are worried for their financial well-being. Making the decision to live at home for a few more years puts off the thought of reaching other milestones, such as getting married or starting a family.

Unemployment rates also have a hand in millennials’ decision-making, as a lower income makes it more difficult to live independently.

Although the study was focused around those who have had some time to find a job, finish school and form their own households, it shows the impact that economic circumstances have on the ability of people to reach milestones and how they prioritize their lives.


The U.S. Census Bureau report gave a lot of insight into the mind of a millennial; it showed that they aren’t just being lazy, but rather they are being cautious given their circumstances. Millennials have a whole new perception of what it means to be an adult, and this has allowed them to create a new path toward becoming independent.

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Header image: Adobe Stock


Posted 04.27.2017 - 03:20 pm EDT