The kids are older than you think.
Marketers are still deciding where Generation X ends and the next generation starts. But, whether you call members of that next group Millennials, Generation Y or something else, many of those 70 million consumers are ready to buy insurance products, not simply chew on a plush version of the Aflac Duck.
If the first Millennials were born in 1985 – 20 years after the oldest members of Generation X – then those first Millennials are already turning 27. The oldest are old enough to own homes, to travel for businesses they've founded (and rent a car while doing so), and to buy health insurance in their own name. If they have much income to protect, they should be shopping for disability insurance. They should be learning a little about long-term care insurance (LTCI), for their parents if not necessarily for themselves.
If the youngest Millennials were born in 2004, then even those youngest Millennials are or will soon be 8. They may already recognize the Duck, Flo of Progressive, and Mayhem of Allstate. They’ll turn 21 in 2025. If the world of the 2060s is much like the world of today, they could be the anguished informal caregivers of the 2060s. They might be the care users in the 2080s and 2090s.
When the Millennials were born, and when most were growing up, credit card marketers were showering credit card offers on their parents. Some of the credit card offers were for the families’ dogs, cats, parakeets, and even the baby Millennials. Water came from a faucet, milk from a carton, and easy money from rectangles of plastic.
The stereotypical parents of Millennials could generally get a job if they could use a computer, and they could get a home loan if they could breathe.
Now, the Millennials are facing an economy plagued by uncertainty. Is this just an ordinary soft economy or something worse? Will we have oil? Will we have fresh water? Will the weather work properly, or have our cars and power plants broken it? And how will we make all of those pension and retiree health benefits promises we’ve made to the elderly and soon-to-be elderly of the world?
The Millennials themselves are part of a blurry generation. They seem to be in good health, but a lot of them are fat. How can they be so healthy if they’re so fat? On paper, they seem to be well-educated, but they can’t necessarily write. They may text up a storm, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use Google to research a new law, or even know the difference between a computer’s random-access memory and its hard drive.
Will they turn out to be the hard-working, thrifty, forward-thinking kinds of people who can and do buy products such as disability insurance and LTCI insurance, or will they, on average, be too poor or too irresponsible to do much about the future?
Here’s a series of tables that give a glimpse of what the Millennials are like today and hint at what they might become.
A Generation Is Born
One way to define the "Millennial generation" is to say it includes the 70 million people born from 1985 to 2004.
|Born in the USA|
|Year||Number of Births|
|Source: National Vital Statistics Reports|
Health Indicators: Who Has What?
|Adults ages 20-44||All adults ages 20 and older||Adults ages 20-44||All adults ages 20 and older|
|Poor diabetes control among adults with diabetes||26%||13%||29%||23%|
|Source: CDC/NCHS, National Health Interview Survey|
What Millennials Fear
Good news for insurers and agents: Employees who are part of Gen Y are very concerned about the effects of unforeseen events affecting family financial security.
|Gen Y||Gen X||Younger Boomers||Older Boomers|
|Employee’s premature death||54%||51%||47%||39%|
|A principal wage earner is no longer able to work because of disability or serious illness||65%||58%||58%||51%|
|Extra costs not covered by medical insurance that result from a serious illness||63%||51%||55%||48%|
|Having enough money to pay bills during a period of sudden income loss||72%||60%||56%||57%|
|Source: 10th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends|
Are They Planning Ahead?
|Percentage of Young Workers Who Say They Have Saved for Retirement|
|Workers, Ages 25-34||66%||72%|
|Percentage of Young Workers Who Say They Will Have Enough Money to Take Care of Basic Expenses During Retirement|
|Workers, Ages 25-34||26%||40%|
|Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, and Mathew Greenwald & Associates Inc., Washington|
What The Millennials Think About Benefits
How Young Adults' Assets Have Changed
|All||Younger than 35||All||Younger than 35|
|Other real estate||6%||2%||1%||5%|
|Stocks and mutual funds||22%||13%||2%||13%|
|IRA and Keogh accounts||29%||17%||2%||1%|
|401(k) and thrift accounts||4%||38%||NA||NA|
|Financial institution accounts||65%||58%||72%||65%|
|U.S. savings bonds||11%||8%||15%||13%|
|Other interest-earning assets||3%||1%||9%||5%|
|Regular checking accounts||32%||32%||54%||51%|
|Source: (c) 2011 Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends project. The Rising Age Gap in Economic Well-Being.|
The Generations: Pew Research Center Compares and Contrasts
|How Do They Think?|
|Analysts at Pew conducted a fascinating survey to provide the data behind an online quiz system that determines what generation the user is part of. Here are some of the questions and answers.|
|In the past 24 hours, about how many text messages, if any, did you send and receive on your cell phone?|
|1 to 9||20%||21%||25%|
|10 to 49||16%||27%||25%|
|50 or more||11%||31%||13%|
|In the past 12 months, have you contacted a government official?|
|Do you have a tattoo?|
|(c) 2010 Pew Research Center. "How Millennial Are You? The Quiz" Results Data|