Generation Y Has Become 'Generation Why Bother,' Stats Suggest; Are Careers Affected?

The recession may be contributing to poor job outcomes for the younger generation in part because it is changing their capacity for risk.

That’s the conclusion of author Todd Buchholz and Cambridge University student Victoria Buchholz, who claim in a New York Times opinion column that the recession is contributing to a risk-averse generation of 20-somethings. Kids nowadays are more sedentary and complacent, they say, unwilling to hop aboard a bus for a new state and better job opportunities.

“Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother,” they write. “The Great Recession and the still weak economy make the trend toward risk-aversion worse.”

The authors use statistics and psychological research to bolster their case, including these findings:

• Children raised during recessions take fewer risks with their jobs. Even when economic conditions improve, these kids don’t try as hard to find new jobs and “hold on to lousy jobs longer.” One Yale researcher found that recession-era college graduates have a relative wage loss even 15 years after getting their first job.

• There is a “stuck-at-home mentality.” The likelihood that youths in their 20s will move to another state has dropped by more than 40 percent since the 1980s. At the same time, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled. “Today’s generation is literally going nowhere,” the authors write.

• Children raised in tough economic times tend to believe luck plays a bigger role in success, breeding complacency. They are less entrepreneurial and less likely to leave home because they believe luck counts more than effort, according to a UCLA economist who has studied the phenomenon.

Additional Gen Y coverage: “Panelists Trade Barbs at Debate on Work Ethic of Millennial Generation”

Above the Law: The Practice: Does Anyone Want a Mentor Anymore? “Trying to Recruit Gen Y Lawyers? Focus on Innovation and Lifestyle Rather than Tradition”

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