How is the Great Recession Impacting Young Adults?

How is the Great Recession Impacting Young Adults? July 17, 2013

From AP:

CHICAGO (AP) – Drew Miller clearly remembers the day his father was laid off.

Miller, now 25, was a freshman at an Ohio college, full of hope and ready to take on the world. But here was this “red flag … a big wake-up call,” he says. The prosperous years of childhood were over, and his future was likely to be bumpier than he’d expected.

Across the country, others of Miller’s generation heard that same wake-up call as the Great Recession set in. But would it change them? And would the impact last?

The full effect won’t be known for a while, of course. But a new analysis of a long-term survey of high school students provides an early glimpse at ways their attitudes shifted in the first years of this most recent economic downturn.

Among the findings: Young people showed signs of being more interested in conserving resources and a bit more concerned about their fellow human beings.

Compared with youths who were surveyed a few years before the recession hit, more of the Great Recession group also was less interested in big-ticket items such as vacation homes and new cars – though they still placed more importance on them than young people who were surveyed in the latter half of the 1970s, an era with its own economic challenges.

Either way, it appears this latest recession “has caused a lot of young people to stop in their tracks and think about what’s important in life,” says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who co-authored the study with researchers from UCLA.

The analysis, released Thursday, is published in the online edition of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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  • Randy Gabrielse

    As someone who has some experience working with youth and has regular interaction with them, I see much more questioning of collegiate education and its value. I both understand this and am troubled by it.

    I understand that we are seeing what may be a sustained trend of decreasing pay off for a collegiate education as such an education no longer guarantees a job as it once did. But I am deeply troubled that the decline in the payoff is leading young people to opt for lesser or more narrowly specific education, as I believe that we are creating a two-tier society, one of the very well educated and one of the rest of us.


  • david carlson

    color me unconvinced by the study. Often people see what they want to see.

    @drgabrielse:disqus – we have always had a tiered society. It does have more stratas than two however, with the top being the Harvard/Yale educated.