Friday, December 1, 2017

Generation Grumpy

Generation Grumpy (1962-1971): Why You May By Unhappy If You're Around 50.

As people get older, they tend to become more at peace with their finances, survey research shows. But not the current crop of middle-aged Americans.
Let’s call them the Grumpy Middle.
They are unhappier than previous generations. And they’ve been this way for years.
Typically, people 45 to 54 are more likely than others to say they are “pretty well satisfied” with their financial situation, according to the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey. Then the generation born between 1962 and 1971 started to reach their current age range — and bring their longstanding economic dissatisfaction with them.
This is essentially the older half of Generation X (1961-1980) and completely unsurprising. This is my demographic, and these are literally the attitudes of almost everyone I know in my cohort.
Following the Grumpy Middle over time in the survey reveals that they have been less happy than other respondents as far back as the early 1990s, when most of them were in their 20s.
Americans in their 20s and 30s have always expressed a higher degree of anxiety, but this is the first time in the survey that the dissatisfaction has crept so far up into middle age. The General Social Survey does not dig deeper on this and ask why. And other variables that touch on personal happiness don’t suggest people born between these years are more unhappy over all.
No, but as they note, we were this way when we were in our 20's in the 1990's and experiencing the the first real generational shift away from the Boomers in terms of economic future and attitudes. I can remember (though can't find at the moment) a survey in the early 90's that showed we were the first generation in history to say we wouldn't do as well as our parents, and how shocking that was to the clueless Boomers who were busy then (and still are) raiding the economic pantry and leaving scraps for everyone else. E.g. this latest tax re-write scam, pushed mainly by aging Boomers, will leave my kids' generation (iGen 2001-2020) trillions of dollars in debt.

I guess we were too busy being ironic slackers and listening to grunge or whatever, but the economic insecurity signposts were certainly there more than 25 years ago. And we are now the classic middle child, sandwiched in between the Boomers (1943-1960) and Millennials (1982-2000).
Back in 1994, when the baby boom generation was filling in the 45-54 age group, a male full-time worker made $1.29 for every dollar made by other male full-time workers. Women in this age group were also the top earners, although female pay was not as disparate; they made $1.13 for every dollar made by other female colleagues.
The Grumpy Middle got to college around the time the drinking age was raised to 21 and were too young to enjoy all of the benefits of the booming 1980s economy, but old enough to have worked with older colleagues who could regale them with tales of how great things were for white-collar workers in the 1980s.
And now they’ve reached their peak earning years, only to find they are no longer peak earning years.
Glad to know it's not just me. I mean, I do know a few people in my generation that are living large and would find this article to be completely foreign. But for most people I know and have grown up with and am still friends with, generationally-speaking? This is us. 

Thanks Obama (or Nixon, whatever).

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