Millennials are people, not clones

by John Quiggin on August 11, 2017

The Washington Post has an article on millennial attitudes to Trump, broken down by race/ethnicity. The results won’t surprise anybody who’s been paying even minimal attention. Other things equal, millennials are even more hostile to Trump than Americans in general. Of course, other things aren’t equal; as with the population at large, African-Americans most unfavorable to Trump, and whites are least so, though no group is favorable on balance.

What’s surprising, or at least depressing, is the contrarian framing of this as a counter-intuitive finding, against a starting point assumption that millennials should have uniform views. I can’t blame the author of this piece for taking this as the starting point; it’s taken as axiomatic in the vast output of generationalist cliches against which I’ve been waging a losing battle since the first millennials came of age in the year 2000.

Just to push the point a little bit further, this study only disaggregates millennials by race. If, in addition, you took account of the fact that millennials (on average) have more education, lower income and less attachment to religion than older Americans, you would probably find it impossible to derive statistically significant differences based on birth cohort.

{ 5 comments }

1

CJColucci 08.11.17 at 3:08 pm

If all you care about is getting the damn kids off your lawn, distinctions between kids won’t matter much.

2

J-D 08.12.17 at 12:36 pm

You might find this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HFwok9SlQQ

interesting.

3

David Y 08.12.17 at 3:34 pm

It’s too bad the Gen X reporters writing these pieces (for their Baby Boomer bosses) have completely forgotten how annoyed they were at being generationally essentialized a couple decades ago.

Your last sentence points out how this is another example of people failing to use statistics thoughtfully.

4

John Quiggin 08.13.17 at 3:43 am

@2 Great stuff!

5

Alan White 08.13.17 at 4:12 am

Since existentialism started in 19th century first-person pre-stochastic humanism ala Kierkegaard, I wonder if 21st century existentialism has no choice but to be relegated to first-person post-stochastic humanism lamenting the loss of the first-person narrative to the predominance of statistics. Are you a neo-existentialist John?

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