Generation X group did not have the helicopter parents like the millennials,” explains Taylor. “And today, they have had to deal with many economic circumstances that makes them less optimistic than the baby boomers and the millennials….Taking care of their children, their aging parents, paying off their student debt, their children’s student debt. So, economically, they’re having a very stressful life.”
Still, Taylor points out, the overwhelming optimism that millennials have may be in part due to age. But, he says, only time will tell.
“Generation X is interesting because it’s the first generation where there is less social mobility. No longer are people thinking things will get better. There is less optimism, “ says Taylor.
There’s a good reason for that.
“In the last 15 years, growth has flatlined in the U.S.,” Taylor says. “From the 1940s to the 1970s, the standard of living kept increasing. But now people aren’t sure whether or not they will do better than their parents.”
Elliott says it’s too early to say whether wealth loss is a new pattern among generations (baby boomers do have more debt than their parents). But that it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
“When it comes to wealth building and income,” she says, “Generation X is a group to look at to start seeing the larger changes that are happening in the economy.”
As for a silver lining, Taylor says this savvy and skeptical group does not care what others think of them. He also says that older households are much better off in terms of retirement. “And over time,” he says. “They are getting help, with more people looking after grandkids and giving other resources… and ultimately, that wealth [from their parents] will filter down.”
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