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When Do You Become an Adult?

Is it a steady job with regular income? A down payment on a home? What are the markers that really make someone an adult, financially speaking?

Adulthood is a concept that’s less about actual age and increasingly more about a collection of money milestones. We partnered with Ipsos, an independent research company, and Amino, a healthcare transparency company, to conduct a survey on millennials’ attitudes about what those milestones are, and what it means to reach financial maturity. Below are the key results from our survey.

Who’s Winning at #Adulting?

Across the board, Millennial women are more likely than men to say they have already reached a milestone they said represented financial adulthood.

In our survey results, the gap between men and women was particularly wide in the areas of independent living, taxes, insurance, and transportation. Women are doing slightly better than their male counterparts when it comes to paying off student loans, home buying, and investing.

While the reasons behind the gap in adulting between men and women are varied, one possible explanation is that it’s an outcome of a broader trend over the last decade where women are more likely to earn a college degree than men, according to data from the U.S. Census.

And while much has been written about women’s increasing educational attainment in the United States, other research shows different trends for young males. One recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggested that labor participation by young males has been declining in part due to video games.

Our survey results also pushed back against the narrative that Millennials are job hoppers, are uninterested in having a family, and don’t care about owning a home. When asked to select up to three milestones associated with becoming a financially mature adult, the top markers that Millennials indicated as most significant were quite traditional. More than half of survey respondents said having a steady job (54%) and buying a home (51%) were markers of adulthood.

And even as the Millennial narrative says this generation is being overly spendy on things like avocado toast, it turns out people ages 22 to 37 are actually doing much better than the average American at managing their money on a daily basis. 

Compared to the national picture, Millennials are not just keeping a monthly budget and/or using a budgeting tool in greater frequency—they are also more equipped to handle an emergency $500 bill without going into debt.

Weak Spot: Retirement Savings

While Millennials tend to be conforming to many of the traditional ideas of what signifies adulthood, there is still an area where there is room to improve: saving for retirement. More than two-thirds of people in the survey said they are not yet saving for retirement, according to our survey results. 

Survey Methodology

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted July 14 – 18, 2017 on behalf of Amino and Earnest. For the survey, a sample of 1,013 adults between the ages of 22-37 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ± 3.5 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ± 3.5 percentage points for all respondents (see link below for more info on Ipsos online polling “Credibility Intervals”). Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,013, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5.0).

¹https://www.nbcnews.com/business/real-estate/one-big-reason-millennials-are-buying-homes-their-dogs-n790921
²http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/24/pf/financial-mistake-budget/index.html
³http://www.bankrate.com/finance/consumer-index/money-pulse-0117.aspx

 

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