Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The Generation X Report: U-M survey paints a surprisingly positive portrait

They've been stereotyped as a bunch of insecure, angst-ridden, underachievers. But most members of Generation X are leading active, balanced and happy lives, according to a long-term University of Michigan survey.

"They are not bowling alone," said political scientist Jon Miller, author of The Generation X Report. "They are active in their communities, mainly satisfied with their jobs, and able to balance work, family, and leisure."

Miller directs the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the U-M Institute for Social Research. The study, funded by the National Science Foundation since 1986, now includes responses from approximately 4,000 Gen Xers---those born between 1961 and 1981.

"The 84 million Americans in this generation between the ages of 30 and 50 are the parents of today's school-aged children," Miller said. "And over the next two or three decades, members of Generation X will lead the nation in the White House and Congress. So it's important to understand their values, history, current challenges and future goals."

The first in a new quarterly series of Generation X Reports describes how Gen Xers are faring in terms of employment and education; marriage and families; parenting; community involvement and religion; social relationships; recreation and leisure; digital life; and happiness and life satisfaction.

Among the many findings:

Compared to a national sample of all adults, Gen Xers are more likely to be employed and are working and commuting significantly more hours a week than the typical U.S. adult, with 70 percent spending 40 or more hours working and commuting each week.

Two-thirds of Generation X adults are married and 71 percent have minor children at home.

Three-quarters of the parents of elementary school children say they help their children with homework, with 43 percent providing five or more hours of homework help each week.

Thirty percent of Generation X adults are active members of professional, business or union organizations, and one in three is an active member of a church or religious organization.

Ninety-five percent talk on the phone at least once a week to friends or family, and 29 percent say they do so at least once a day.

"In sociologist Robert Putnam's influential book, 'Bowling Alone,' he argued that Americans were increasingly isolated socially," Miller said. "But this data indicates that Generation X members are not bowling alone.

"Although they may be less likely to join community-based luncheon clubs, they have extensive social, occupational and community networks. They are active participants in parent-teacher organizations, local youth sports clubs, book clubs and other community organizations."

In addition, Miller points out, nearly 90 percent of Generation X adults participated in at least one outdoor activity, such as hiking, swimming, boating or fishing, and 40 percent engaged in two or more recreation and leisure activities per month.

On the cultural side, 45 percent of the Generation X adults surveyed reported attending at least one play, symphony, opera or ballet performance during the preceding year, and 13 percent said they had attended three or more cultural events during the last year.

"Generation X adults are also readers," Miller said. "Seventy-two percent read a newspaper, in print or online, at least once a week, and fully 80 percent bought and read at least one book during the last year. Nearly half said that they read six or more books in the last year."

Finally, Miller reports, Generation X adults are happy with their lives, with an average level of 7.5 on a 10-point scale in which 10 equals "very happy."

"That is not to say that some members of this generation are not struggling," Miller said. "And in future issues of the Generation X Report we will address some of the challenges many members of this group are facing."

The second Generation X Report will be issued in January 2012, on the topic of influenza. Using data collected during the 2010 influenza epidemic, the January report will explore how young adults kept abreast of the issue and what actions they eventually took to protect themselves and their families. Subsequent reports will cover food and cooking, climate, space exploration, and citizenship and voting.

The Generation X Report:
Jon Miller:
Longitudinal Study of American Youth:
Institute for Social Research:
Established in 1949, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research is the world's largest academic social science survey and research organization, and a world leader in developing and applying social science methodology and in educating researchers and students from around the world. ISR conducts some of the most widely cited studies in the nation, including the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the world's largest digital social science data archive.

Diane Swanbrow | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>