Baby Boomers, many of whom are now senior citizens, are often mocked for endlessly complaining that "The world's going to hell in a handbasket". Well, a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times by David Leonhardt used data gathered by a Stanford University economist (Raj Chetty) to prove that things are getting worse... for Millennials.
Chetty used millions of anonymized federal income tax records, dating back to 1940, to calculate a sort of 'American Dream' factor: That is, the odds American children—once they'd matured to age 30—would earn more than their parents had earned at that age.
What he learned was that for the first few decades after WWII, most Americans grew up to become wealthier adults than their parents had been at that age. (And most of the 30-somethings who didn't earn more than their parents had at that age weren't hurting anyway; they were usually 1%ers who were still making well above-average incomes.)
Although the probability of growing up to earn more than your parents gradually decreased from the 1940s through the '70s, the American Dream of increasing prosperity held true for most Baby Boomers and a lot of Gen Xers.
But children of the 1980s—Millennials—can't expect to earn more than their parents and Chetty's data gives no real hope that future generations should expect to earn more, either.
This is one more nail in the coffin of the oldest marketing truism: That you should direct your ads at younger consumers, because they're not only the ones who'll live to buy your brand longer, they're the ones who are going to have more money to spend in the future.
The young consumers of the future seem likely to be even more cash strapped than the young consumers of today. But go ahead; just keep alienating us mature consumers—the ones with all the money.