They may have been known as the MTV Generation or sometimes "the slackers," when they first started entering the workforce more than 25 years ago, but members of Generation X (Gen X, those born between 1965 and 1976) are now as affluent, stable and saddled with responsibility as their parents were at the same age.
A new study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute, The MetLife Study of Generation X: The MTV Generation Moves into Mid-Life , reports that 70% of Gen Xers live with a spouse or partner. They have an average of 2.5 children and 82% own their own homes, though 17% of those report that the value of those homes is less than the debt attached to them. Forty-three percent have remained in the same type of career throughout their working years and just more than 40% have been with the same employer for 10 years or more. 75% are working full or part-time. Most are part of a dual-earner household.
Now approaching or in middle age, Gen Xers are part of the sandwich generation because many are caring for both their children and their parents. 10% are grandparents. The economy has not been too tough on the group, now aged 36 to 47. Just 19% earn less than $35,000 per year and fully 29% earn more than $100,000. They are arguably better educated than any generation before them-43% graduated from college. Only 50% say they are behind on their retirement savings; they have relatively high ownership rates of 401K plans (66%).
"The Gen Xers have suffered from the 'Marcia, Marcia, Marcia' syndrome since they've been compared with The Brady Bunch daughter, Jan, the frequently unnoticed middle child," said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "Because they followed the Baby Boomers, it took a while for them to make their mark. That was also due to the fact that they're small in number - just 50 million compared to 77 million boomers - and entered the workforce later than their predecessors."
The moniker Generation X originated in the 1991 novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland (St. Martin's Press). At the time, the group was perceived as unfocused 20-somethings, lacking drive and taking an extraordinarily long time to grow up. They were the first to be associated with the term, "emerging adulthood" because they were thought to have put off being fully self-sufficient until their late 20s.
The GenXers grew up in the 1980's and 90's listening to Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. They spent their childhood and adolescence watching MTV and The Cosby Show and, identified with the characters in the movies, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Fully 46% were latch-key children whose parents both went to work.
Other aspects of Generation X revealed in the study include the following:
The majority (63%) of Gen Xers still have both parents living and almost two in 10 regularly provide care for their aging parent(s).
Almost six in 10 Gen Xers report they include exercise in their daily routines.
Approximately 20% have never been married.
70% of Gen Xers are not confident that Social Security will be there to provide benefits when they retire.
Most would like to retire at age 62, but believe working until at least age 67 is inevitable.
Many Gen Xers identify as Baby Boomers.
Two in ten Gen Xers have been married more than once.
On average, Gen Xers own about four financial products, with those in higher income brackets much more likely to own more products.
MethodologyThe nationally representative survey for The MetLife Study of Generation X: The MTV Generation Moves into Mid-Life was conducted by GfK Custom Research North America on behalf of the MetLife Mature Market Institute between November 29, 2012 and December 19, 2012. A total of 1,000 interviews were completed by phone - respondents were all born between the years of 1965 and 1976. Data were weighted by demographics to reflect the total Gen X population.