Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet

Post-Millennials

As a new generation of Americans begins to take shape and move toward adulthood, there is mounting interest in their attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle. But how will this generation change the demographic fabric of the United States? A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that the “post-Millennial” generation is already the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, as a bare majority of 6- to 21-year-olds (52%) are non-Hispanic whites. And while most are still pursuing their K-12 education, the oldest post-Millennials are enrolling in college at a significantly higher rate than Millennials were at a comparable age.

The parents of post-Millennials are more well educated than the parents of Millennials and those of previous generations, and this pattern most likely contributes to the relative affluence of the households in which post-Millennials live. More than four-in-ten post-Millennials (43%) are living with at least one parent who has a bachelor’s degree or more education. Roughly a third (32%) of Millennials in 2002 had a parent with this level of education.

The high school dropout rate for the oldest post-Millennials (ages 18 to 20 in 2017) is significantly lower than that of similarly aged Millennials in 2002. And among those who were no longer in high school in 2017, 59% were enrolled in college – higher than the enrollment rate for 18- to 20-year-old Millennials in 2002 (53%) and Gen Xers in 1986 (44%).

The generation labeled “post-Millennials” in this report – referred to elsewhere as Generation Z, the iGen or Homelanders – includes those born after 1996. Pew Research Center uses the label “post-Millennials” as a placeholder until more consensus emerges as to their name.

For purposes of this analysis, the post-Millennial generation spans 16 years, the same number of years as the Millennial generation (now ages 22 to 37). That may change as well, as this new generation – and the factors that shape it – come into sharper focus.

This report compares the post-Millennials in 2018 with earlier generations when they were ages 6 to 21, examining their demographic characteristics as well as those of their parents and households.

Other key findings:

    • The oldest post-Millennials are less likely than their predecessors to be in the labor force. Only 58% of today’s 18- to 21-year-olds worked in the prior calendar year; this compares with 72% of Millennial 18- to 21-year-olds in 2002. And employment among post-Millennials is less likely to be full-time compared with earlier generations. This is likely due, in large part, to the fact that these young adults are more likely than their predecessors to be enrolled in college.

Post-Millennials

  • The living arrangements of post-Millennial children are similar to those of Millennials when they were growing up. About two-thirds (65%) of today’s 6- to 17-year-olds live with two married parents, slightly lower than the share (68%) of Millennials in that age range who lived in this type of household in 2002. Roughly three-in-ten post-Millennials ages 6 to 17 (31%) live with a single parent, somewhat higher than the share of Millennials growing up with a single parent in 2002 (27%).2
  • The median household income of post-Millennials exceeds that of earlier generations when they were young. The typical post-Millennial in 2018 lives in a household with an annual income of roughly $63,700 after adjusting for household size. That is slightly higher than the income for the typical household in which Millennials grew up – $62,400 in 2002 in inflation-adjusted dollars – and it far surpasses the income of Gen X and Baby Boomer households when they were growing up. This is consistent with the relatively high education of the parents of post-Millennials.

Social Media Bots Draw Public’s Attention and Concern

Social Media Bots

Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, many Americans have expressed concern about the presence of misinformation online, particularly on social media. Recent congressional hearings and investigations by social media sites and academic researchers have suggested that one factor in the spread of misinformation is social media bots – accounts that operate on their own, without human involvement, to post and interact with others on social media sites.

This topic has drawn the attention of much of the public: About two-thirds of Americans (66%) have heard about social media bots, though far fewer (16%) have heard a lot about these accounts. Among those aware of the phenomenon, a large majority are concerned that bot accounts are being used maliciously, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted July 30-Aug. 12, 2018, among 4,581 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel (the Center has previously studied bots on Twitter and the news sites to which they link). Eight-in-ten of those who have heard of bots say that these accounts are mostly used for bad purposes, while just 17% say they are mostly used for good purposes.

To further understand some of the nuances of the public’s views of social media bots, the remainder of this study explores attitudes among those Americans who have heard about them (about a third – 34% – have not heard anything about them).

While many Americans are aware of the existence of social media bots, fewer are confident they can identify them. About half of those who have heard about bots (47%) are very or somewhat confident they can recognize these accounts on social media, with just 7% saying they are very confident. In contrast, 84% of Americans expressed confidence in their ability to recognize made-up news in an earlier study.

Social Media Bots

When it comes to the news environment specifically, many find social media bots’ presence pervasive and concerning. About eight-in-ten of those who have heard of bots (81%) think that at least a fair amount of the news people get from social media comes from these accounts, including 17% who think a great deal comes from bots. And about two-thirds (66%) think that social media bots have a mostly negative effect on how well-informed Americans are about current events, while far fewer (11%) believe they have a mostly positive effect.

While the public’s overall impression of social media bots is negative, they have more nuanced views about specific uses of these accounts – with some uses receiving overwhelming support or opposition. For example, 78% of those who have heard about bots support the government using them to post emergency updates, the most popular function of the nine asked about in the survey. In contrast, these Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to the use of bots to post made-up news or false information (92%). They are also largely opposed to bots being used for political purposes and are more split when considering how companies and news organizations often use bots.