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Study: Millennials are less trusting, less likely to marry—but are the most optimistic

March 8, 2014
Personal Finance
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Woe be the millennials: A new Pew Research Center study found that the digital-native generation is less likely to trust other people, less likely to get married and less likely to join a political or religious organization than their elders.

Following NerdWallet’s October study revealing that, because of their high debt load, most of today’s college grads won’t be able to retire until 73—some 12 years later than the current average retirement age—and a Labor Department report Friday showing youth unemployment is stubbornly high, you’d think millennials would have plenty of reasons to be glum.

Yet Pew found they are the most optimistic generation about their financial future.

“Millennials are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same age,” the study’s authors say. “Yet, they are extremely confident about their financial future. More than eight-in-ten say they currently have enough money to lead the lives they want or expect to in the future.”

Other key findings:

  • Only 26% of millennials are married. “When they were the age that Millennials are now, 36% of Gen Xers, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the members of the Silent Generation were married,” the report says.
  • Some 43% of millennial adults are non-white, the highest share of any generation.
  • Just 19% of millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31% of Gen-Xers, 37% of silents and 40% of boomers.
  • About half (51%) of millennials believe they will get no benefits from Social Security, while 39% predict they will get benefits at reduced levels. But like older generations, they don’t want to see benefits cut.

Read more: NerdWallet’s 3 Essential Beginner Investing Tips for Millennials