Millennials Really Do Have It Tougher — Compared With 1977

By Erin Arvedlund

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In 1977 a four-year public college cost $8,000 vs. $20,000 today, while median incomes have stayed flat at $34,000 over the same time period.

Is life more expensive for America’s millennials? We may hate to admit it, but yes.

New data reveal millennials don’t earn as much, pay more for higher education and put off home purchases longer than Gen Xers and baby boomers did.

Note a stunning report from the news site Axios, which shows just how the cost of living has risen for Americans aged 25 to 34 today, vs. Americans of the same ages in the year 1977 when adjusted for inflation.

For instance, a four-year public college in 1977 cost $8,000 vs. $20,000 today, while median incomes have stayed flat at $34,000 over the same time period.

Median debt has risen from $10,000 to $33,000, while the percent of those 30-year-olds who own homes has dropped from 48 percent to 39 percent since 1977.

How does this affect millennials’ investment, purchasing, and life decisions? We classify millennials as those born between 1980 and 2000. (I’m a Gen Xer, but I feel their pain.)

In new research, Vanguard found that most millennials maintain high allocations to equities given their age and financial goals despite having experienced two severe bear markets during their lifetimes.

Risk-taking across generations, which analyzes investor behavior and risk-taking across the 22-to-37 age group, revealed that the typical millennial investor allocates 90 percent of their portfolio to equities, which is consistent with portfolio allocations, or the “glide path,” of what are called target-date retirement funds.

As an investor ages, target-date funds increase the amount of bonds and decrease the amount of equities. As you approach 65, your bond allocation grows and equity allocation shrinks.

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