Generation In Flux? Younger Millennials Pine For ’50s Families

By Gail Rosenblum
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Sociologists Joanna Pepin of the University of Maryland and David Cotter of Union College compared 40 years of surveys of high school seniors and their opinions about gender equality. Their study suggests that millennials, particularly the youngest among them, favor relationships resembling more the lifestyle of their grandparents, men at work, women in the kitchen, than that of their parents.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

News that a growing number of millennials are pining for a return to traditional gender roles had many of us scratching our heads this week.

This generation, the only group to decisively favor Hillary Clinton in the presidential election?

These young progressives, who expect paternity leave and work-life blending in general?

This demographic, who, in large measure, know only working parents plural?

Turns out a little skepticism is merited. While the findings about millennials, roughly ages 18 to 35, have important implications, the takeaway is that nostalgia for “Leave It to Beaver” is unlikely to portend a return to the past.

“We’re chasing a moving target,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education for the Austin, Texas-based Council on Contemporary Families.

“People make huge generalizations about millennials,” said Coontz, who has tracked family trends for nearly four decades, “but it’s not at all clear that beliefs they may report today will stay with them.”

These beliefs, which grabbed headlines, suggested that millennials, particularly the youngest among them, favor relationships resembling more the lifestyle of their grandparents, men at work, women in the kitchen, than that of their parents.

Sociologists Joanna Pepin of the University of Maryland and David Cotter of Union College compared 40 years of surveys of high school seniors and their opinions about gender equality.

Among their findings: Fewer youths express support for gender equality than did their Gen X counterparts in the mid-1990s. In 1994, for example, 42 percent of high school seniors agreed that the best family was one where the man was the outside achiever and the woman took care of the home. In 2014, 58 percent said this was true.

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