As a new generation of Americans begins to take shape and move toward adulthood, there is mounting interest in their attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle. But how will this generation change the demographic fabric of the United States? A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that the “post-Millennial” generation is already the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, as a bare majority of 6- to 21-year-olds (52%) are non-Hispanic whites. And while most are still pursuing their K-12 education, the oldest post-Millennials are enrolling in college at a significantly higher rate than Millennials were at a comparable age.
The parents of post-Millennials are more well educated than the parents of Millennials and those of previous generations, and this pattern most likely contributes to the relative affluence of the households in which post-Millennials live. More than four-in-ten post-Millennials (43%) are living with at least one parent who has a bachelor’s degree or more education. Roughly a third (32%) of Millennials in 2002 had a parent with this level of education.
The high school dropout rate for the oldest post-Millennials (ages 18 to 20 in 2017) is significantly lower than that of similarly aged Millennials in 2002. And among those who were no longer in high school in 2017, 59% were enrolled in college – higher than the enrollment rate for 18- to 20-year-old Millennials in 2002 (53%) and Gen Xers in 1986 (44%).
The changing patterns in educational attainment are driven in part by the shifting origins of young Hispanics. Post-Millennial Hispanics are less likely than Millennial Hispanics to be immigrants – 12% of post-Millennial Hispanics were born outside the U.S., compared with 24% of Millennial Hispanics in 2002. Previous research has shown that second-generation Hispanic youth tend to go further in school than foreign-born Hispanic youth. That is borne out in this analysis, as 61% of second-generation Hispanics ages 18 to 20 who were no longer in high school were enrolled in college in 2017, compared with 40% of their foreign-born counterparts. Overall, the share of post-Millennial Hispanics enrolled in college is significantly higher than the rate for Millennials in 2002 (55% vs. 34%, among 18- to 20-year-olds no longer in high school).1
More broadly, the post-Millennial generation is being shaped by changing immigration patterns. Immigration flows into the U.S. peaked in 2005, when the leading edge of the post-Millennial generation was age 8 or younger. The onset of the Great Recession and the large decline in employment led to fewer immigrants coming to the United States, including immigrant children. As a result, the post-Millennial generation has fewer foreign-born youth among its ranks than the Millennial generation did in 2002 and a significantly higher number who were born in the U.S. to immigrant parents, though this may change depending on future immigration flows.
Article written by Richard Fry and Kim Parker