Millennials Are the Next Biggest Generation in America
The U.S. Census Bureau released its most recent estimates of American population this month, which reported that the Millennial Generation had surpassed the Baby Boomer Generation for the first time ever. The study numbered Millennials at 75.4 million and Baby Boomers at 74.9 million, with Generation X sandwiched between at about 66 million Americans.
Although the Baby Boomers were the largest generation in U.S. history, Millennials are breaking records in their own right. The Millennial generation is the most diverse generation and its population is growing in part due to the influx of young immigrants to the United States. SSDAN Director William Frey was quoted by Voice of America on Millennial diversity and future generations, “The Millennials are a transition between a white America into one that’s a much more globalized, diverse America and so I think that’s going to be a signature part of the generation coming forward.”
With a few months until the 2016 election, researchers are interested in the number of eligible voters in each generational cohort. The Baby Boomers peaked in 2004 with 72.9 million eligible voters, but as the Boomers age, Millennials will inevitably surpass them in this category as well. Does this mean politicians should be pandering to the youngest generation in the electorate? Not necessarily. Millennial turnout has been relatively low in recent election years despite the size of their cohort in the electorate. In 2008, 50% of eligible Millennials voted and in 2012, only 46% cast a ballot.
Although younger people are less likely to vote, now that most Millennials have reached the age of 18, will there be a change? According to the Pew Research Center, “In a low-turnout environment, 58% of eligible Millennials would need to vote in order for their voting clout to match their share of the electorate” or about 31% of voters. Come November, we will see if Millennials are not just the largest generation in the electorate, but the largest generational voting bloc as well.
TeachingWithData.org is a partnership between the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN), both at the University of Michigan. The project is funded by NSF Award 0840642, George Alter (ICPSR), PI and William Frey (SSDAN), co-PI.
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