Millennials upbeat on finances, cool to traditions, like marriage

Jonaya Kemper, a member of the millennial generation, makes a scarf for a friend in Los Angeles' Thai Town while her cat chills out nearby. A new Pew surveys says millennials are more upbeat than others about their finances and the nation's future but are cool to many traditions, such as political parties and religious affiliations.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Millennials stand out among other generations for their optimism over personal finances and America’s future, according to a new national survey released Friday by the Pew Research Center.

But the upbeat thinking among the 18-to-33-year-old crowd is also marked by near or at record levels of detachment and distrust of traditional institutions, the report also said.

“Millennials are forging a distinctive path into adulthood.” said Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center’s executive vice president for special projects and author of the new book “The Next America.”


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Taylor added, “Compared with older generations, they’re unmoored from three anchor institutions of society -- political parties, organized religion and marriage.”

The Pew survey report can be accessed here.

Most of the data in the Pew report came from a February telephone survey of 1,821 adults directed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 2.6%.

More than eight in 10 millennials say they currently have enough money to lead the lives they want (32%) or expect to in the future (53%).

About 49% of millennials think the nation’s best years are ahead, the survey said. That’s a higher percentage than among older baby boomers (44% feel the same way), and Generation X (42%).


Millennials are also the generation most deeply involved in social networks: 81% are on Facebook, with a median friend count of 250, far higher than that of older age groups.

But they are hedging their bets on many other traditions.

Half of millennials describe themselves as political independents. Also, about three in 10 (29%) say they are not affiliated with any religion.

“These are at or near the highest levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the quarter-century that the Pew Research Center has been polling on these topics,” the report said.

Friended but still single: Just 26% of the millennial generation is married, the survey said. That’s a percentage much lower than when other generations were in the same age range.