10 Fun Facts About the Millennial Generation


Reason-Rupe has a new survey and report out on millennials—find it here. Here are a few highlights:

(1) Millennials prefer smaller government, if larger government requires high taxes. When tax rates are not explicit, 54 percent of millennials favor "larger government providing more services" and 43 percent prefer "smaller government providing fewer services." But once tax rates are mentioned, support flips. Instead, 57 percent favor "smaller government, providing fewer services, with low taxes" and 41 percent want "larger government, providing more services, with high taxes."

At first, Caucasian millennials are nearly 20 points more likely than non-white millennials to favor small government. But once taxes are mentioned the race/ethnicity gap disappears among Caucasian, Latino, and Asian millennials and 6 in 10 prefer small government.

(2) Millennials are cautious of government power. 58 percent of millennials worry government agencies abuse their power. 63 percent believe government regulators favor special interests over the public when they write and enforce regulations. 66 percent say government is usually inefficient and wasteful, up from 42 percent in 2009.

(3) Millennials still want government to care for the disadvantaged. 58 percent of millennials think government should spend more on financial assistance to the poor, even if higher taxes are required. Roughly 7 in 10 also favor government guarantees for housing, food, and health insurance, and 54 percent favor guarantees for college to the least advantaged.  However, their support for social spending steadily declines as their incomes rise.

(4) Millennials strongly prefer free markets over a government-managed economy. When asked to choose the better system, 64 percent of millennials choose the free market over an economy managed by the government (32 percent). A majority (52 percent) also favors capitalism over socialism (42 percent). Interestingly, millennials appear to be more favorable to socialism than a government managed economy even though the former requires more government intervention. This indicates millennials may not know what the word "socialism" means. 

(5) Millennials don't like to be nannied. Across a number of substances and activities governments have banned or sought to ban, millennials favor individual freedom. For instance, majorities support legalizing marijuana (57 percent) and online gambling (58 percent), buying traditional incandescent light bulbs (64 percent), selling large sugary drinks in restaurants (72 percent), and eating trans fats (62 percent).

Moreover, 67 percent think government ought to allow same-sex couples to get married. In fact, even 54 percent of Republican millennials support legalizing same-sex marriage.

(6) Millennials are entrepreneurial and like business. 55 percent of millennials say they'd like to start their own business one day and that hard work is the key to success (61 percent). Millennials also have a positive view of the profit motive (64 percent) and competition (70 percent).

(7) Millennials favor meritocracy over egalitarianism. When asked to choose, 57 percent of millennials would rather live in a society where wealth is distributed according to individual achievement rather than a society where the income gap is small (40 percent). Their preferences for meritocracy or egalitarianism are tied to their attitudes toward large or small government, redistribution, capitalism and socialism.

(8) Millennials are social liberals and fiscal centrists. Millennials distinguish between liberal positions on economics  and social issues, flouting traditional political allegiances. 62 percent identify as socially liberal while 49 percent say they are fiscally liberal.

A socially liberal, fiscally conservative political candidate could succeed with millennials. 53 percent say they would support a candidate who was both socially liberal and fiscally conservative. In fact, liberal millennials (60 percent) are significantly more supportive of such a candidate than conservatives (43 percent). Social issues, more than economics, tend to define their political labels and shape their political judgments.

(9) To stimulate the economy, millennials want action. In efforts to stimulate the economy, millennials simultaneously support policies that expand government and policies that limit it. Two-thirds favor raising taxes on the wealthy and reducing government spending by 5 percent. But 6 in 10 also favor increasing government spending for job training programs and infrastructure projects, as well as cutting taxes. Millennials think somebody should do something to help improve the economy, but have less of an ideological preference as to how.

(10) Millennials are the most racially diverse generation. Only 56 percent of millennials are white, compared to 73 percent of baby boomers (46 to 64 year olds). Millennials are almost twice as likely to be Hispanic as older Americans (19 percent vs. 10 percent), and more likely to identify as African American (15 percent vs. 11 percent) and Asian (6 percent vs. 4 percent).

To learn more about millennials, check out Reason-Rupe's new report.