What a buzzword! We read it in headlines and we listen to it in street conversations. Some blame this generation for the bad changes that society is experiencing. Others only consider millennials as part of the landscape. Others do not even believe they exist, or even people of previous generations have typical features of what we call ‘millennial generation.’ The question is, what will the financial future of this generation be like? How traumatic could it be? How frequent will the word ‘bankruptcy’ be in the conversations of the future?
Perhaps, one of the things that most offend millennials is – precisely – to be called that way. Generally, people say that this generation, born between 1980 and 2000, has a new vision of work, an indifference to the culture of saving, and an absolute distrust in the pension system. They say millennials have almost no roots for business, and this motivates them to jump from job to another. In addition to fulfilling several functions at the same time in the work they do, it seems as if the future is such a desperate matter, that the ideal would be, precisely, to enjoy the present and the years of youth, because there may be no future whatsoever.
Here’s the question: What if there is a future? We are all scared of climate change, the possibility of a nuclear war with North Korea, the lack of natural resources from overpopulation, the explosion of the Yellowstone volcano, and other fears that characterize our time. All generations have been afraid of the future. During the Cold War, before and during World War II, etc. And yet, here we are. We do not know what will happen in the future, of course, but the point is that living under the punk motto of ‘no future’ can bring a lot of regrets in case the world keeps spinning.
There may be many problems, but I would like to highlight three in this post that could seriously affect the financial future of millennials. The first one is the low birth rate. There is no doubt: Not having children is a respectable decision, but what happens when the birth rate decreases at an uncontrolled rate? In the Nordic countries, for example, one of the major concerns that have led governments in places such as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark to incorporate a large share of immigrants is actually the pension system. A large population of old people with a small young population to back them up.
Millennials are much more interested in their careers; in consequence, birth rates are declining in different countries and regions. This fact is not a mere perception: Birth rates have been reduced by at least 15% since the end of the previous decade. The problem is that time passes, and although science delays some effects of the old age, the labor market always prefers the new generations. The local society is ceasing to reproduce, the foreign society is growing. Will one replace the other? The development of automation and artificial intelligence could replace a lot of manpower. What will happen to that generation of fancy tattooed old people who will not be able to compete? How many of them will file for bankruptcy? Will there be a social system to back them up?
Read also: Is It Possible To Avoid Business Bankruptcy?, by Suzzanne Uhland
On the other hand, the precariousness of working conditions is a phenomenon that has been generalized from the implementation of neoliberal economic policies everywhere in the world. This situation affects a large number of people and has become the norm for the millennial generation.
Labor precariousness is and will be a financial problem. A large number of people affected by precariousness already constitute a new social class (and this is not a metaphor.) Increasingly, companies seek to hire their labor force through contractual arrangements that are not convenient for employees. It is a consequence of the excessive desire to save costs that characterizes our ‘liquid modernity.’
Millennials often get small temporary jobs, training grants, and also have to perform a large amount of unpaid work, unrelated to their jobs, such as looking for a job, thickening the resume by studying more, and looking for possibilities among their contacts. Their wages fluctuate, are erratic, do not allow planning for a future (and this, not to mention the loss of the advantages of the classic stable jobs, such as paid vacations or a dental plan.)
If we add that the priorities of millennials when investing the money they earn, they are more related to immediate enjoyment (for example, traveling through Europe and Asia, ‘before the progress of civilization screws everything up.’) The future seems secondary. The third problem, closely related to the previous one, has to do with savings. Millennials do save but do not spend their money on products or services related to the long term.
This is perhaps an unreasonable generalization. Maybe the culture will change because of sudden turning points. For now, this is what we can expect.
* Featured Image courtesy of Leah Kelley at Pexels.com