America’s Youth Think They Can Save the World and Get Rich

Sophie Alexander:

People have been trying to pigeonhole millennials for years, particularly when it comes to those revered 20th century totems they keep destroying. You know, movie theaters, supermarkets, cars, homeownership—you name it.

But millennials and their younger brethren in Generation Z, who together make up 40% of the U.S. population, have bigger fish to fry than worrying about the disdain of their elders (not that they would, anyway).

It’s true that these generations want a career that makes a difference, even if it doesn’t pay a lot. Piles of surveys say the same thing: Many young Americans believe that, while providing some greater good to society, they can also work less than Generation X does.

The conundrum, of course, is that exploding student debt and the concentration of jobs in outrageously expensive cities make this a bit of a challenge. As they move through college and graduate school and choose a career, where to live, whether to get married or have kids, millions of young adults are demanding everything at a time when they can least afford it.