Kids Aren't Rushing To Get Their Driver's Licenses—and That's OK!


The share of teens with driver's licenses peaked in 1983, when 72 percent of Americans aged 16–19 were legally approved to drive. Today, only about 50 percent are.

The decline has stupefied many a baby boomer and Gen Xer, who can't imagine why young people today don't want to hit the open road. Writing in The Atlantic in May 2018, Penn State professor Gary Cross fretted about the loss of that "magical age of 16, when suddenly a world opened up." The Washington Post in 2015 dedicated more than 2,000 words to how America's love affair with cars was "cruising towards oblivion" because those damn kids don't want to drive.

What do teens actually say? According to a University of Michigan survey, the two most common reasons given for not having a driver's license were being "too busy" to get one (37 percent) and thinking that owning a car "is too expensive" (32 percent). Most of the teens surveyed (70 percent) said they planned to get a license eventually.

Owning a vehicle was never cheap, but those survey responses suggest there's simply more competition for teens' dollars and attention today than in the past. Do you want to spend your money and time fixing up an old car or buying and playing Red Dead Redemption 2?

"Car culture" has always been an American touchstone, but researchers have found similar declines in teen driving rates in Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The University of Michigan analysis correlates the decline in teen driving with the rise in internet use, suggesting that cyber connectivity and escapism is replacing the lure of the open road—or at least slackening the need to drive to friends' houses to hang out in person.

But teens holding off on hitting the road isn't cause for worry. For one thing, it's probably good for public health. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,400 Americans aged 16–19 were killed in car crashes in the United States during 2016—about six deaths per day. That's down from 7,993 deaths in 1995, and 9,659 in 1985.

As for the loss of car culture? Times change, and social norms evolve—teens don't rock out to Elvis, the Ramones, or Linkin Park anymore, either. That's fine. There's no single reason fewer teens are driving today, and no amount of consternation is likely to reverse the trend.

NEXT: Brickbat: Don't Let Anyone Know

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  1. …researchers have found similar declines in teen driving rates in Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

    HOW DOES THAT MAKE IT BETTER? This is America. We shouldn’t be doing the same as those lesser counties. (We also shouldn’t be using the serial comma, which is the metric system of punctuation.)

    Teens need to get on the open road and experience some taste of adulthood and, more importantly, independence. The opposite is how millennials happen.

    1. HOW IS THAT REMOTELY A PROBLEM? It has nothing to do with America or another country being better. Its only a global trend. Probably related to more people moving to cities where transportation options are much greater.

      Not having a car doesn’t mean they are lacking life experiences or independence. Today there are many alternative forms to owning a vehicle.

      1. Well, well, well. Someone doesn’t read too good. I wrote counties instead of countries. Was it a careless typo? Or perhaps was it a well-crafted way to expose those who gloss over my words instead of taking them deep into their soul and comprehend exactly what they mean?

        Turn the key in the ignition of your heart and step on the gas pedal of understanding (without flooding the engine of progress) and start down the road to, I don’t know, American exceptionalism? Maybe. Because Uber won’t take you there. (Uber the company is of course American exceptionalism in corporate form separate from my metaphor.)

        1. A well crafted trap!


      2. The transportation options in cities is no greater now than in the mid-80’s when I turned 16.

        There’s still the bus. There’s always been the bus. Its no faster today to get anywhere on the bus than it was then.

        Today there’s Uber – unless you don’t go anywhere very often then its certainly not cheaper than owning a car.

        Yes, not having access to a car means they are missing life experiences and independence. The car is the second most important piece of tech when it comes to promoting human independence and freedom.

        1. +100

          America is partly what it is because of the freedom of the automobile.

        2. The most important being…the zipper?

          1. The front closure bra.

      3. Someone with a car can travel far on his own schedule. Someone without a car must stay within the control of a local authority or follow the schedule set by the mass transit planners to get to one of the destinations they picked.

    2. Metric and the serial comma are better. Quit being such a nativist identitarian.

      1. If Metric is so much better, why doesn’t any country use the standard metric units? 😉

    3. Make teens are being turned into a bunch of soyboy beta pussies. Guys are supposed to be into cars, partying, and chicks. Which is part of why Americans are better than everyone else. So of course progtards, being the ever treasonous counter tribalism Marxist douchebags, are desperate to emasculate all male behavior.

    4. We also shouldn’t be using the serial comma, which is the metric system of punctuation.

      This, good Sir, means war.

      However, you are correct about the passivity that people accept in life these days. I got slow customer service today at the USA consulate in Tel Aviv when I told the clerk that I wanted to handle my pending charges (mostly related to vehicular incidents) via teleconference so that I could stay in Israel, but the clerk said that missing Tuesday’s court date because I was out of the country was a problem after he looked up my name on his computer. He told me to sit down and wait for some expert to talk to me about the situation. After several minutes of waiting, I got bored enough to leave the building.

      Now, I’m sitting next to a broadcast of Eurovision oldies on an Israeli TV channel as I surf the internet on the new computer I bought. This is what happens when a person neglects to get an international driver’s license before traveling out of the country. If I had prepared better, I could have rented a car this morning and been at the border of Ramallah, or Gaza, or Egypt, or Jordan, or Lebanon, or Syria by now enjoying the sunny weather and figuring out if those barriers are as easy to cut as that fence around the county hospital was.

    5. ONLY 1 thing matters to teenagers, being seen & heard, in order to score a date.
      In 70’s = you needed a car to do that.
      In the 00’s = you need a computer to do that.
      Which is GREAT, because all those public transit detractors weren’t able to control the root cause of driving at that age, and hopefully they’ll stay on the bus into adult age and save us all.

      1. But once you’ve scored a date, you still have to get together physically to really score and a car can help a lot with that.

        Unless technology has improved a lot since I last looked at it, even reaching first base still requires both parties being in the same place at the same time. (Although, those with multiple personality disorders or gender confusion may be exceptions if they really like the other personality or the manifestation of their other gender).

  2. What a bunch of losers! I got my learners permit ON my 15th birthday, and got my license like a week after I turned 16 because that was the soonest appointment I could get.

    I really don’t get the losers who don’t own cars, kids and adults. I think part of it is increased urbanization. In a city with transport it does have less utility than in a smaller city or town… But still well worth it. I’d give up damn near everything I can think of before I’d give up owning cars.

    1. No, it’s not urbanization. It’s multiple factors. My oldest didn’t get his license until he was 17, and we pretty much made him do that.

      We live in a suburban development in the tricities of NE TN, with no real direct access to public transportation. Some of his friends already had licenses, so when necessary he could most always get a ride, but mainly they just don’t have the urge to migrate and congregate like we did. These kids seem to live in an almost entirely different world than previous generations.

      Computers, the internet and CELL PHONES have fundamentally changed the way they interact with each other. They do not need to go somewhere to stay in touch or feel connected, and -at least in our small towns – other than actual outdoor adventure (hiking, skiing, etc) or organized sports, there really isn’t a whole lot that can compete with the entertainment and diversions available right at their fingertips.

      It’s almost silly sometimes how it all makes for some rather strange habits. A few month ago he was having issues with an online game, and I find him texting a friend trying to work out a solution. There he is hunt and peck typing on a small hand held device when I happen by and say “you know, that thing handles voices as well, have you considered calling him and talking rather than typing?” He looks at me like the possibility never crossed his mind.

      But let me tell you it’s going to get even stranger. The oldest is 18 now, and he remembers a world before smart phones. His younger brother is 12, and he doesn’t know any other world. Even he strikes the older one as quite different in his approach to technology and the outside world.

      Widespread literacy was perhaps the last transformation on this sort of scale.

      1. That’s always been my theory. When I was a kid a drivers license was access to your social peer group. Now it’s all on the phone in their pocket.

        1. There is more to interacting with peers than phone conversations or texting.

          Drinking together, cracking jokes in person, doing pranks, going somewhere new, meeting new people that are not listed in tour phone…

          1. Drinking, fighting, fucking. Partying, etc…….. are all important formational behaviors of a normal adolescent male. Progtards want to destroy that and turn our boys into an endless procession of weaklings that make Adam Schiff look macho.

          2. Social media is the lest social way to interact with people.

      2. I imagine that is part of it… I’m an older millennial, so I kind of get where these stupid kids are coming from, but also totally don’t on other stuff.

        As LC says it’s one thing to talk to people/keep in touch via text… But I could and did call/text people when I was a teen and in my 20s… I still greatly preferred to meet up in person and get trashed, party, do stupid shit, etc. How exactly is one supposed to feel up a boob via text message??????? 🙂

        1. But also, on the margins, I do think urbanization must play into it. Maybe it’s only responsible for 20% of the gap, maybe it’s far more, but it’s gotta be in there.

          It certainly explains lots of other macro trends, like the erosion of support for gun rights… Because city slickers just have never been around them or had an opportunity to use them and see that they’re sweet!

    2. I’ve never owned a car, and I’m getting into my middle-aged years. I also don’t expect to own one any time soon.

      The reasons for this have varied. When I was younger, it was a vital cost-saving step. As I grew older, it became more of a lifestyle choice. I have always lived in at least somewhat “urban” places, though the usefulness of public transport has varied. I have never had children, either, which is part of how it’s worked out for me, as well.

      I don’t see anything about car ownership that would make it “well worth it,” at least for me. I get around just fine without it.

  3. Apparently these teens are also declining to start having sex. In my day (Gen X), no drivers license and still being a virgin was the sort of thing you didn’t admit to on a survey, not even anonymously.

    1. Nah, they still have sex. With more two-income families they just have sex at home after school instead of in the back seat on Saturday night. Increasingly, parents cooperate and provide birth control.

      There’s also the online porn effect. Who needs the drama of a high school girlfriend and her entourage when you can get all the fantasies you want on your smart phone?

      Back in my day (right in the Boomer/Gen X border) we also needed to drive to get to our jobs. These days fewer kids work because they’re busy building their school activity resume to get into college.

      1. Statistically the age of first sexy time and total number of sexy time partners has been going up and going down respectively. IIRC it peaked during Boomers, then Gen X was about the same, and then started trending down during Millennials and now Gen Z.

        I would say it’s more online porn than anything. LOL

      2. It’s 2019, and I can fuck cute boys in a virtual high school with hijinks.
        What sane individuals would engage in the crude act of mashing their genitals against one another when you can do the aforementioned activity in a darkly lit room?

      3. With more two-income families they just have sex at home after school instead of in the back seat on Saturday night.

        With their Anime pillow?

      4. The goal is to get a million dollars so you can bang two chicks.

      5. BIkeRIder,

        Yep to your entire comment but most of all “These days fewer kids work because they’re busy building their school activity resume to get into college.

        I think college is become a four year prom night for many Americans.

  4. Cars provide individual freedom.
    Cars require individual responsibility.
    Who would really expect today’s kids to want either one?

    1. It has nothing to do with freedom or responsibility. And isn’t choosing to not take on responsibility because you don’t want the responsibility being responsible? I wish more people thought about this before having kids.

      1. Cars have everything to do with responsibility. You’re maintaining something you don’t understand. You’re literally responsible for your life as well as the lives of others on the road. You’re also participating in the responsibilities that come with driving, like planning travel and transporting others. Back in the day, people got their licenses ASAP so they could drive their kid siblings to church or run errands for their parents.

        1. Yes, it requires responsibility. But your inflating choosing not to take on responsibility as being irresponsible or running away from responsibility. Who cares if they don’t want to drive, if anything they are being smarter by not getting into car debt and paying all the insurance.

          I couldn’t wait to get my license at 16 but I would gladly give up my car today if I could walk to work, shops etc.

          1. Sometimes if you don’t “force” yourself to step up your game, you stagnate. This is true in all areas of life. It really does seem like people are simply prolonging childhood, in almost all aspects, far later into their life… Like snot nosed kids into their 20s, and barely better than college kids when they’re pushing 40.

            I would know, I am a millennial, and I see this shit myself in half of the people I know my age.

            1. Hey vek, have you noticed your Millennial peers changing a bit because of the younger Gen Zers now becoming adults?

              I have noticed a few Millennials talking shit about GenZers and then altering their behavior because they realized that their choices were not that great and they are missing out compared to the Gen Zers.

              1. One example that I have is music concerts.

                The Millennials were talking shit about going to concerts and what they thought good music was.

                Some GenZers were discussing going to a Classic Rock concert and how Classic Rock was superior music to anything in the last 20 years. The Millennials then asked about concert details and what to expect. The Millennials later went and loved it. Even funnier is that the GenZers drove the Millennials to the concert.

              2. I dunno. A lot of people I know have certainly changed positions on things, largely just because of getting older and less stupid IMO. LOL

                Most of the left leaners I knew in HS are a lot more centrist or right leaning nowadays, for instance. But that’s typical aging stuff IMO. I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody change behaviors because they thought those dern kidz were doing anything.

          2. Considering how few responsibilities kids typically have and how none of their other possible activities are anywhere near the scale of being an adult for a while, I’m not conflating anything. Not taking responsibility when you have none is the same thing as running away from it.

        2. I think you missed part of the TheProvacatuer’s point. Choosing not to take on a responsibility you aren’t ready for IS the responsible thing to do.

          1. Or the cowardly thing to do.

            1. Helicopter parenting/horrible public schools created a whole generation of lazy, afraid, stupid, Socialist loving, and irresponsible young people.

              It would seem that Generation Z is learning from Gen Millennial’s mistakes.

              1. The older generation always comes off as stale, boring, and lame. Sometimes this works to a relative advantage.

        3. Back in the day, people got their licenses ASAP so they could drive their kid siblings to church or run errands for their parents.

          That’s not kids “wanting” responsibility, that’s parents pushing it.

          You’re conflating a kids choices with their parent’s choices.

          1. Parents job is to teach kids things.

            One such “thing” is responsibility and independence.

            If you dont know how to drive, you are de facto limiting your employment possibilities.

            1. You entirely missed my point.

              You and others are busy trying to blame kids for their parents actions.

      2. Having talked to actual kids about this (my eldest son and a few of his other (formerly) non-driving friends) I’d say that are some rational risk/benefit considerations being made.

        Given the sorts of opportunities that modern conveniences provide – entertainment, communication, etc. The hassles of driving – not just the risks and expense but also the amount of time it takes to get to and from do matter. Their world is more instantaneous than ours was, so the time issue is bigger than you might otherwise think.

        Mostly they are not doing the analysis consciously, more that they did not have any unmet needs that would have been satisfied by driving a car.

    2. Cars provide individual freedom.

      I see you’ve been exposed to a lot of car advertising.

      A lot can be said about car ownership, but “freeing” does not seem to be one of them. The drivers I see locked in congestion do not seem very “free”; people living in places where car ownership is “required” to live everyday life don’t seem very “free” to live any other way; many car owners are locked into a perpetual cycle of auto loan debt or lease payments.

      My entire adult life, I have met my transportation needs through a mix of walking, mass transit, and cycling. Compared to car ownership, getting around on a bike can be quite freeing!

      Besides which, the only way owning a car can even begin to seem “freeing” is if we’ve spent massive amounts in building up road infrastructure and imposing requirements on private property owners to provide parking for cars, to say nothing of all the explicit and implicit subsidies we have in place regarding car emissions, use of fossil fuels, and so on. So we give up a lot of individual freedom to be able to be “free” to use cars.

      1. “Compared to car ownership, getting around on a bike can be quite freeing!”
        Oh fuck off Simon. You’ve never even owned a car, and are content to live your life in some polluted hole of a downtown core. And hey, it’s not like the rest of us haven’t owned a bike either.

        You wouldn’t know freedom if it teabagged you.

        1. You’ve never even owned a car, and are content to live your life in some polluted hole of a downtown core.

          It’s “polluted holes of downtown cores” that subsidize the suburban clone colonies you seem to prefer, bub, so I suggest you shut your ignorant pie-hole.

  5. Where is that asshole SimonP to applaud this?

    1. I’m flattered that you thought of me.

  6. My kid (18 now) was excited to get his license after turning 16. He started driving and realized that driving here (Houston) sucks. He hates to drive around here. I can’t blame him, I love to drive, but traffic and construction are so bad that it is truly a bad experience now.
    More of a hassle than anything else.

  7. Maybe it is a millennial thing? My kids are all under 16, and they can’t wait to turn 16 and get a car. Maybe it’s because I don’t let them play Dead Red Redemption or watch TV for more than an hour a day.

    1. I don’t let them play Dead Red Redemption


  8. thinking that owning a car “is too expensive”
    For six years I had a drivers license but no car. Having a license allowed me to borrow a car when I needed. Also some states use years of driving experience not age in setting insurance rates (California INS 1861.02(a)(3)).

  9. There are now a bunch of stupid fucking restrictions on teenagers trying to get their licenses. I got my license ASAP. Today, I don’t think I’d be in such a big hurry to get pulled over and 20 questioned by the PO-PO.

    Technology has also made it a lot easier to stay at home and have a good time. Who needs to go to a movie theater anymore? A drive in? Why eat out and when you can order in and get fuzzy with your date at home?

    Driving used to be fun and a requirement, not so much anymore. Every nanny state asshole wants to call the cops if you burnout or donut in a parking lot. Street racing… LOL! good luck! Cops show up and you’re a teenager… your life may be fucked or they might just shoot you.

    Let’s talk about expenses, newish cars are pretty damn pricey and the age discrimination towards the young for insurance is obscene. Let’s not forget about all of the new smog, tag and registration fees. Also, new gas taxes that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Fucking toll roads, don’t get me started on that shit. Penalties for any kind of bullshit infraction not getting paid on time. How many new driving laws are there? More expensive tickets? Municipalities now using driving infractions as cash cows. $300 ticket now as adult is no big deal. When I was a teenager? That was more than a weeks wages.

    No, teenagers today are just making the same choices we all would’ve. Thank the nanny state, copsucking, authoritarian, NIMBY assholes for restricting everyone’s freedoms through financial, pride and time costs.

    1. I suspect the restrictions on licenses have a lot to do with it.
      Can’t drive with more than one or two non-related persons.
      Why drive if you can’t go cruising with your friends?

      Teens not getting jobs probably has a bit to do with it as well. Reliable transportation is unnecessary when you ain’t working.

      I pay less for comprehensive coverage on two vehicles today than my dad paid for liability only for me to drive a beater truck that was older than I was.

      1. “Teens not getting jobs probably has a bit to do with it as well.”

        Another excellent point. We can thank the ‘save the children’ crowd for all of our new anti-youth labor laws. Good luck to any kid that wants to grow up before they’re 20.

      2. Cruising is illegal in quite a few places too.

        I get the argument about taking the fun out of driving.

        Cars provide endless possibilities of fun though and kids always invent new ways to get around the rules, so if they are not wanting to even try it, it does not bode well for those kids (now adults).

    2. Yeah, our nation has demonized car ownership and taxed and regulated it so much over the past several decades that it creates disincentives to drive.

  10. “The decline has stupefied many a baby boomer and Gen Xer”

    The parents probably aren’t complaining

    1. Oh no, as mentioned above, we pretty much had to compel our oldest to finally get his license at seventeen. While he was pretty good at arranging transportation he was not perfect, so there were still many times when he needed a ride from his parents.

      And while we could have forced the change earlier it did seem rather risky to compel a sixteen year old to assume a responsibility he wasn’t particularly motivated to perform. I honestly compare it training a puppy, some want to learn, others simply don’t, and the ones that don’t are damned hard to train.

      Viewed from that perspective the hassles of having to give him a ride were easier to accept than the potential consequences of inattentive or careless driving.

  11. Kids these days can’t get drivers licenses. They can get something called a “drivers license” but with all the restrictions piled onto it, it’s just a glorified learners permit. Whereas back when I was 16 my under-18 driver’s license lacked those restrictions on when, where, and with whom I could drive.

    1. Pshhh. I had a couple restrictions when I first got mine… Didn’t stop me from breaking most of them!

      I actually lived in a small town and ditched a cop once who knew who I was so I could have a friend hop out of the car so I wouldn’t get a ticket… It was just a series of very rapid, but not illegally fast, turns and dumping them off… By the time I was rolling by the cop alone I got a REALLY bad scowl from them, because they knew they’d seen somebody in there a minute earlier.

      1. This^

        We had rules too and learned how to skirt them or outright break them and get away with it.

        Kids break rules. Its part of being young. Kids who are afraid to get into some minor trouble scare me far more than rule breakers.

        Think about it. Many Millennials are scared to break rules. Makes it easy for government to control them because threats work on them.

        1. Yup. This cop had given me a warning for driving with somebody else a couple weeks earlier… And I said “Fuck it!” and just did it again.

          People who never break ANY rules scare me too… I obey sensible rules, but generally flaunt dumb ones. If everybody acted like this all the time we wouldn’t even HAVE dumb laws.

  12. I don’t know how it is in other states, but in my (northeast leftist) state, you cannot have a license unless it is tied to some form of auto insurance, either stand-alone or tied to a vehicle. E.g. My ex-wife does not have a valid drivers license because she does not own a car and is not on the insurance policy of someone who does. I’m not exactly sure how this works since my daughter was able to get her license without being listed on anyone’s policy, but my ex had hers revoked for this same reason.

    1. That’s whack! It’s not like that anywhere where I’ve ever been.

    2. WTF!?!

      So you cannot have a drivers license only? So a person who was so rich that they wanted to simply driver Hertz rental cars, could never do that? Fucking Nanny-States….time to move.

      1. No, you can get a non-owned vehicles only policy, but you at least have to have that.

        1. “No, you can get a non-owned vehicles only policy, but you at least have to have that.”

          Wow, that’s a new one on me. What state is this?

          Everywhere I’ve ever lived it’s automobile insurance, not driver insurance. And just how to the insurance companies set rates not knowing what sort of vehicle(s) you might be driving?

        2. Wow. I would never live in a state like that, personally.

          I had a friend who was from NY and his drivers license was tied to his vehicle registration. I gave him shit for that because its stupid.

          If he didnt pay a speeding ticket, the home state would cancel his dirvers license and vehicle registration even if he was not driving THAT vehicle.

  13. My dad bought his first house (a 3 bedroom in Tacoma Washington) right out of collage in the late 70s for I think $21k. A couple years ago I bought a clean used 2008 suv for $18k. These are just not the same economies.

    1. Thats inflation and value differences.

      Average wage: 34,632
      Car Cost: $6,848
      Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $22,356
      YOUR House cost: $21,000
      House in 2016 Dollars: $73,139.98

      1. Furthermore, cars of 1979 were pretty much a transmission, 4 wheels, and an engine. The niceties you are used to like: Intermittent wipers, were not in most vehicles back then.

        Same concept for houses. Back in 1979, most houses were 4 walls and depending on your area, lucky to have a garage… Central A/C, unlikely but depends on your area.

        1. Not only that, but a 10 year old vehicle in 1979 was pretty much at the end of its useful life.

          A 10 year old vehicle bought today stands a fair chance of giving you 7-10 years of additional service, most of it trouble free.

        2. Houses were pretty much the same then as now. With a bigger yard. For a lot less money (even in inflation adjusted dollars.) Unless you needed to get a mortgage….

        3. This is missing the point. Back in your day, a pimply teenager could credibly save enough to buy a *new* car from a summer job… One summer. The fact that they’re federally mandated to be more complicated and expensive doesn’t negate the fact that they’re also unaffordable for most youths today, not to mention the recurring gas and insurance costs.

          1. A teenage today could not save $2000 to buy a used car today? Of course they could.

            Your claims are bullshit but feel free to cite things that change our minds.

          2. Yeah, I bought beaters for my first couple cars.

            Every time I meet a person who says they don’t own a car because they’re too expensive, and then start babbling about multi hundred dollar a month car payments etc… I remind them you can buy TONS of reliable used cars for like a couple grand. If you drop $4-5,000 you can buy some downright decent stuff.

            I make GOOD money and I’ve still never spent more than $8,700 on a car. Kids can buy cars if they want one.

      2. I was actually buying a house late last year. For $70k, I could have bought an empty lot. But even a crappy run-down “fixer-upper” was more then $70k.

        Housing costs did not keep up with inflation, they vastly exceeded it.

        1. Ehhhh… In some areas. In many areas housing is only basically right there with inflation over the last couple decades.

          Especially if you compare apples to apples. The average square footage of houses has been going up and up and up, and once you adjust for that prices have been pretty stable in most of the country. The major cities on the coasts of course are fuct.

          1. Except that they don’t make “apples” anymore. So your “apples to apples” comparison is actually “apples to rotten old worm-eaten apples”.

            And that’s if you can find them at all. Since no one is making small houses anymore (and haven’t in decades), the market for “don’t have much money but need/want a house” is very constrained.

            1. Ish. You can still buy not insanely sized 3 bedroom houses new in plenty of places… Not so much in fancy cities, but working class shit is built in working class cities where RE prices aren’t sky high.

              More importantly you can buy endless used houses, which will be a better buy, and frankly better built in a lot of ways… Construction standards have nose dived in many ways over the last couple decades. I don’t think I’d even consider buying anything built after the 90s unless I personally knew the owner and they vouched for some of the construction techniques used… And I’d rather buy something pre 1980 if possible.

              Whatever the case, poorer people are supposed to buy the used smaller houses because they’re poor, and high income snobs are supposed to be buying the huge new houses. That’s kind of how it’s supposed to work. If all you can afford is a 1000 sqft house you shouldn’t be buying a brand new one, with the premium that entails, most likely anyway.

    2. You are comparing apples to pencils.

      What did a ten year old station wagon costs the year your dad bought his house? I’m going to guess about $150, maybe $200 if it was cherry.

      1. Huh? That’s kinda my point. Kids today are looking at buying houses and cars at 10+x the cost that their parents paid. Their wages are not 10+x their parents’. Thus, downward sloping demand curve tells us of course they’re not wanting to buy these assets at the same rate.

        1. Youre not looking at the numbers

          Your claim that things cost 10x what they used to is false.

          1. What exactly would you estimate an average 3 bedroom (with yard) in a major PNW city costs today??

            1. You’re using an atypical example to prove your point. Using national averages prices for houses have more or less remained ballpark the same, especially when you account for the SIZE of the house which has skyrocketed like crazy since then.

              Look at Des Moines and re-run your numbers and you’ll find it’s no different than in the 70s.

          2. In 1963, my parents paid $10,000 for a 3 bedroom house in good condition, in a solidly middle-class neighborhood and 3 blocks from a very good elementary school. You’ll pay more than $100,000 for any house fit to move into these days, except maybe in a failed city like Flint Michigan, where you’ll be rationally afraid to step outside or to drink the water. Newer houses have some improvements over a house built in the 1960’s, mainly better insulation, better insulated windows and doors, and a high-efficiency heating system, but you’ll probably have to pay over $200,000 for that newer house…

            In the 1960’s, a new VW Beetle cost $1600, and a Chevy $2,000 if you could avoid loading it up with options. There isn’t much on the market today that costs less than 20 times that VW or 15 times the Chevy.

            Yes, it’s difficult to untangle how much of that increase is just inflation and how much is that a modern car is actually better. The cheapest car on the dealer’s lot today has a lot of features that an old Beetle or Chevy lacked. Half of them are luxuries that are irrelevant to the basic automotive function of getting somewhere (CD players and satellite radio, power windows, etc.), but the modern car is much, much more reliable, burns far less fuel to move one ton one mile, and anti-skid braking and traction control accomplish what I had to spend a lot of time learning and often do it better. OTOH, an inexpensive car today is rather small compared to a 1960 Chevy; you pretty much have to get an SUV or minivan to get the room Americans once took for granted in a sedan. And although repairs will be much less frequent, their cost is much, much higher. Dad could rebuild a carburetor and tune up the car in the yard (but often had to!); there’s no way I could work on electronic ignition or fuel control.

            1. It is complicated to untangle quality improvements vs inflation for some items… In some cases product quality has actually declined too.

              But I’d say for your car reference it’s more like 10x increase, not 20. You can buy new cars for under $20K, they’re just not big fancy ones. I bet without all the fancy new fangled crap we could turn out basic cars for $5K nowadays if they could be sold, on account of increased automation.

  14. “Times change, and social norms evolve—teens don’t rock out to Elvis, the Ramones or Linkin Park anymore, either. That’s fine.”

    NO IT’S NOT.

    1. Yeah, I agree, the Ramones are awesome. Me and my millennial buddies still rocked out to 70s and 80s punk!

  15. or buying and playing Red Dead Redemption 2?

    Kids need better taste in games.

    1. Borderlands 3 is coming in September.

    2. Hello Kitty Island Adventure?

  16. Do you want to spend your money and time fixing up an old car or buying and playing Red Dead Redemption 2?

    One might argue there’s a problem here as well.

    1. My younger son just started playing Auto Repair Simulator. I laughed when he told me he wanted it.

      Last year he watched me replace the serpentine belt and idler pulley on his mom’s car, gonna give him a month and then see how does when we replace the brake pads.

      1. Nice!

        He will be one of the few mechanics of his generation and make 200k because all his generation thinks that they are too good to fix stuff or dont have the ability.

  17. Alternate Boehm article;
    Kids Aren’t Rushing To Get Their Driver’s Licenses—Because of Trump Tariffs and That’s NOT OK!

  18. Why buy a car, when everything you need is on your phone?
    We used to have to drive to the mall or the lake to hang out.

    1. If the likes of Google and Uber get their way, car ownership will become a thing of the past, as well as driving, licensed or not. Bad news for the working class, driving being perhaps the biggest slice of the working class occupational pie. Cars are extremely expensive, take up a lot of space and sit idle for most of their days. They also force one into tedious things like licenses, insurance forms etc.

      1. On that front, I don’t think they’re going to mandate people can’t have cars… But I can theoretically see the day when car ownership declines a lot because it’s the practical things to do. But many will still own their own private autonomous car or whatever. I want to have MY car that I can leave MY things in all the time, etc. So will lots of other higher income people. But yeah, lower middle class people might ditch ownership if they don’t say need a work truck for work or something.

    2. But texting is not as GOOD as hanging out IRL. I mean, I do both… But I still go out in the real world because it’s more and better.

      Also, you can’t get to 3rd base via texting.

  19. No, its not ok.

    To start with, every single one of the ‘reasons’ these people aren’t getting their licenses is bullshit.

    You’re not any more busy at 16 today than you were in 1989.

    Cars aren’t any more expensive to own and operate today.

    You don’t even need to own a car to have and use a license.

    There’s no single reason fewer teens are driving today . . .

    Yes there is – failure to launch.

  20. This isn’t surprising at all when you consider that similar numbers of millennials are still living with their parents well into their 20s. Driving involves a lot of responsibility and some ambition to have a place to go and one day own your own car. That said, the teens I am neighbors with all have their licenses, but I probably see more now on electric scooters.

    1. I am fine with the scooter thing. They are still getting the responsibility lessons and all that, its just far cheaper than a car.

      More dangerous, I would guess.

  21. The problem is that kids today aren’t doing other things…they’re just staring at their damn cell phone.

    Also, while cars cost money, they also offered a way to make more money – getting a job.

    1. Having kids of my own I’d say the biggest difference between they and their peers vs. myself and my peers is that we spent a whole lot more time doing nothing. Sometimes by choice, but also because we just didn’t have the available options and greater material wealth of today (when you have more stuff, you inevitably have more stuff to do.)

      And while they certainly do spend a lot of time on their phones, in that regard they are no different than the rest of us. Mine also do most all of the other activities I used to to, plus a few more that were never an option for me. The net result is they are almost always doing something.

      It’s almost humorous when they end up in a situation where there is nothing to do – they don’t know how to handle it. My older falls asleep, and the younger one bounces off the walls.

      The past is always a foreign country; they do things different there.

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