DALLAS (Reuters Life!) - If you sport a tattoo, voted for Barack Obama, and have a profile on a social networking site, then chances are you are one of the 50 million Americans dubbed the “Millennial” generation.
This is the current crop of 18 to 29-year-olds that has come of age in the new millennium and their lifestyles, views and outlooks have been profiled in a large new study released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.
“Millennials are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history,” Pew said.
“While their search for first jobs and careers has been badly set back by the Great Recession, they are optimistic about their own economic futures and more satisfied than their elders with the state of the nation,” it added.
Part of the study unsurprisingly focuses on new technologies as this is history’s first generation to grow up “always connected.”
It found that 75 percent of Millennials have a profile on a social networking site, compared to 50 percent of Generation Xers (aged 30 to 45) and 30 percent of Baby Boomers (who are now 46 to 64). Just six percent of the over 65 crowd have one.
Being “plugged in” has its consequences and nearly two-thirds admitted to texting while driving — a public safety issue which has become a major concern nationwide.
Millennials were big supporters of Obama during the 2008 presidential election, giving him 66 percent of their vote, but their enthusiasm for the Democratic Party, while higher than their elders, has also slipped.
“The share of Millennial voters who identified or leaned Democratic fell from 60 percent at the beginning of 2009 to 54 percent at the end of the year, while the share who identified or leaned Republican rose from 31 percent to 40 percent,” Pew said.
Millennials are also more pro-government with 53 percent saying it should do more to solve problems compared to 45 percent of Xers and 43 percent of Boomers.
There are other ways in which Millennials also fit a more Democratic or liberal profile, though not dramatically so.
Twenty-eight percent say they have a gun in their home compared to 31 percent of Xers and 42 percent of Boomers. Fifty percent of Millennials are in favor of gay marriage compared to 38 percent for the entire population or all age groups.
In some lifestyle choices, like technology, the differences are more striking. Around four in ten Millennials have a tattoo compared to 32 percent of Xers and 15 percent of Boomers. Only six percent of Americans over 65 have a tattoo.
And of the Millennials who have a tattoo, half have two to five and 18 percent of the tattooed have six or more.
The world of marriage and family life has also been different for many, with 31 percent growing up with one parent versus 25 percent of Xers and 16 percent of Boomers. And just one-in-five Millennials is married now, half the portion of their parents’ generation when they were that age.
A Pew survey in January, as well as more than 20 years of Pew polling data, were used for the study. Other sources included U.S. census data.