May 21, 2019

DAVID HARSANYI: The Conventional Wisdom About Millennial Suffering Is A Myth: Despite a sense of unearned victimhood, young adults don’t have it harder than previous generations did.

The WSJ article, for instance, notes that millennial households “had an average net worth of about $92,000 in 2016, nearly 40% less than Gen X households in 2001, adjusted for inflation, and about 20% less than baby boomer households in 1989.”

The driving reason for this disparity is the millennial penchant for delaying traditional adult milestones. As a group, they are prone to choose short-term happiness and independence over long-term wealth accumulation. Now, maybe millennials are leading more fulfilling lives than their parents and grandparents, and maybe not. Comparing themselves economically to generations that embraced a different set of priorities at the same age, and then wondering why the results are different, however, is disingenuous.

For example, millennials should consider themselves lucky that college is more readily available to them (this includes the poor) than any previous generation. Yet, no one says they have to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt by going to expensive schools. But the tradeoff for a higher education is often more debt, and delayed wealth.

College is too expensive for a host of reasons. No one says we live in a utopia. Yet, in the years before the government injected moral hazard into the equation by backing loans for every useless journalism degree, both lender and borrower had to weigh the compromises of debt. Perhaps being a well-read and well-rounded person with a fine arts degree is more important to you than an engineering degree and a big paycheck. That’s fine. That’s a choice.

Psychology, the seventh-most popular major in the United States, is also the 160th most useful major in making a living.

Read the whole thing.

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