Millennials are less likely than Gen Xers and baby boomers to embrace their generation's label, a study published Thursday by Pew Research Center found. They will soon become the largest living generation in the United States and currently make up the largest share of the country’s workforce, but the majority of people ages 18 to 34 do not identify with the term “millennial.”
Generation labels are created by market researchers and social scientists, and they're somewhat variable and subjective. The study found that only 40 percent of adults in the millennial age group identified with their generation label, and roughly a third of them identified more strongly with the Generation X label, while 58 percent of adults Gen Xers (ages 35-50) embraced their generational label. Kanye West, though, seems to be an outlier; although he is 38 and therefore a Gen Xer, he identified with the younger generation on Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards and referred to himself as a millennial.
A whopping 79 percent of baby boomers (ages 51-69) identified themselves this way, while only 18 percent of people ages 70 to 87 saw themselves as belonging to the "silent" generation.
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) September 3, 2015
The study also reported how generations viewed themselves, and members in the silent and baby boomer generations were more likely to view themselves in a favorable light, while people in the millennial and Generation X generations were more skeptical. Millennials were more likely to describe themselves with negative stereotypes, such as “self-absorbed.”
— Christopher Flavelle (@cflav) September 3, 2015
Younger generations are more likely to ascribe themselves negative stereotypes because of their age and life stage, the Pew Research Center acknowledged -- not because of characteristics unique to their generation, but because responsibilities tend to increase with age. For example, baby boomers are older so they are more likely to ascribe themselves as “responsible.” The generation that viewed themselves as the most “idealistic,” though, was the millennial generation.
The study was conducted March 10-April 6 and surveyed 3,147 adults. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.