According to a study by the ironically named Take Charge Institute at the University of Arizona, more than half of young "adults" age 23 – 26 rely on their family for financial support. Half! Of those, nearly half of them are employed full-time. No worries though, it's just that Millennials are taking an extended break before reaching adulthood.
“I see it as (Millennials) adapting to the world as it is today, not as it was when their parents came of age,” [lead author of the study Joyce] Serido says. “What we saw was this lengthening period of emerging adulthood.”
Ah, that must be it. Because our parents and their parents never took nearly a decade after graduating high school to "find themselves" and figure out how to pay their own way in the world. I grew up hearing tales of how my mom left my grandparents' house just after high school to hitchhike across the United States and Canada with little more than a backpack and her dog; sure my grandparents would bail her out when she got picked up by mounties for who-knows-what but she mostly funded her adventure by picking up random jobs town to town like working carnivals or picking oranges in Florida. She returned after a year or two, worked shitty factory jobs, put herself through nursing school, and had me midway through. I don't see any studies on the "emerging" adults of 1970s hippie culture.
Back to the Millennials, here's what being an "adult" looks like now for one young lady following her dreams on mommy and daddy's dime:
Kay Sorin, 23, graduated from Colombia [sic] University with degrees in Psychology and Creative Writing and is currently pursuing her MFA while tutoring on the side. Her goal is to publish a novel and then become a writing teacher.
While her parents pay for grad school and living expenses, which she said is “kind of embarrassing,” Sorin’s parents – her mother is also an artist and her father is a retired lawyer-turned record producer – see the value in her pursuing her dream career with as little financial burden as possible.
“There is some stigma attached to it, I really don’t want to extend that indefinitely,” Sorin said of the financial support. “But when I am writing something or making progress with my art, those doubts sort of fade away and I think, ‘I’m going to be successful in this and this is just a time I need some help.’”
Despite needing a handout — or, seed money, really, since these young adults are basically adult startups that need their parents' venture capital — Millennials want to leave their mark on the world and work independently (being dependent on one's parents must not factor in to those lofty goals):
Research from Deloitte backs up Serido’s findings: In its 2014 Millennial Survey, Deloitte researchers found “Millennials want to leave their mark on the world … More than previous generations, they are ready to work independently if their needs are not being met by a traditional organization.”
With the initial lack of financial independence, full-time careers and traditional adult milestones being met, it seems reasonable that so many worry about the future of Gen-Y. But according to Serido, Millennials are simply adapting to the ever-changing world around them as every previous generation has.
As the Deloitte survey further supports, Millennials are interested in changing the way businesses work and the world around them.
“They think differently, behave differently,” she says. “And thank goodness. We have to solve some hard problems. They give me hope.”
Another interesting bit direct from the Deloitte survey:
Millennials are eager to make a difference. Millennials believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance, with a focus on improving society among the most important things it should seek to achieve.
Of course someone who doesn't have to pay their own bills might think that way. Try picking up a mortgage, a car loan, and a couple kids and report back on how important "improving society" is.
Newsflash: not everyone gets to change the world.