Kids These Days Have It Anything But Easy

Every generation tends to not understand the ones that come after it. They don’t like the music, they don’t like the fashion, and they don’t like that things have supposedly gotten easier over time. It’s a combination of the “back in my day we had to walk to school every day, uphill both ways” philosophy and the notion that “kids these days have it too easy.”

But the relationship between the Baby Boomer and Millennial generation feels especially sour. Millennials are thought to be a bunch of infantilized, special snowflakes who expect things to be handed to them rather than earned. While Boomers are thought to be the selfish, self-centered generation that thoughtlessly blew up the economy and left later generations to pick up the pieces.

If Millennials come off as entitled, perhaps it’s because we have a right to be. We feel entitled to the promise of the American Dream – that with hard work, our generation would be economically better off than the one that came before. It’s a thesis that this country was built upon. And yet it’s a dream that is becoming increasingly elusive, the result of myriad economic and policy forces coalescing against personal economic growth.

The job market is not producing enough full-time, high-paying jobs. Wages haven’t just been stagnant, they’ve actually regressed over the past 30 years. The poverty rate for young adults has been steadily creeping upwards. The cost of college has been rising rapidly even as the financial outcomes of having a degree have gradually eroded. And economic and class mobility has been decreasing.

All of these forces have combined into some troubling trends for the Millennials generation, not the least of which is plummeting homeownership rates. Joel Kotkin writes for The Daily Beast:

The potential decline in ownership also represents a direct assault on future American prosperity. Jason Furman, who served as chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, calculated that a single-family home contributes 2.5 times as much to the national GDP as an apartment unit. Investment in residential properties has dropped to its lowest share of overall spending since World War II; by some estimates reviving that would be enough to return America to 4 percent growth.
With so many millennials unable to afford homes, or even to see a path to future ownership, household formation has been far slower than in the recent past. Rather than a surge of middle-class buyers, we are seeing the rise of a largely property-less generation whose members will remain economically marginal into their thirties or forties. Indeed by 2030, according to a recent Deloitte study, millennials will account for barely 16 percent of the nation’s wealth while home-owning boomers, then entering their eighties and nineties, will still control a remarkable 45 percent of the nation’s wealth.

Unfortunately, many of our nation’s biggest cities, most of which are led by Democrats, are erecting regulatory barriers that dramatically drive up the costs of homes. The author specifically cites California, whose regulations have driven down housing construction and pushed housing prices to unaffordable levels. The result is the lowest homeownership rates in the nation and falling child population, the result of young adults inability to buy a home and start a family.

The home ownership problem is imminently fixable, but not if Baby Boomers and Democrats continue to stand in the way of growth through overregulation and overspending. Simply put, this just can’t be another example of today’s bad decisions robbing opportunity from the generations of the future.


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