Professor Quiggin outlines his view on millennials

29 Mar 2018

‘Millennial’ Means Nothing

On 6 March 2018, Professor John Quiggin wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times outlining his views on millennials. The full article can be viewed on the New York Times website.

The Pew Research Center announced last week that it will define people born between 1981 and 1996 as members of the millennial generation, embracing a slightly narrower range of years than the ones used by the United States Census Bureau. It would have been better, though, if it had announced the end of what I call the “generation game” — the insistence on dividing society into groups based on birth year and imputing different characteristics to each group.

Yes, limited insights can be gleaned from thinking of humans in terms of generations, but this ultimately does more harm than good by obscuring the individual factors that actually shape our attitudes, politics and opportunities.

To see what’s wrong with the idea, take a look at American millennials. In seemingly endless essays in recent years, they’ve been derided as lazy and narcissistic or defended as creative and committed to social change. But these all sound like characteristics that the old have ascribed to the young since the dawn of time. Similar terms were applied to the “slacker” Generation X and before that, the baby boomers.

View the full article on the New York Times website.