April 20, 2024

Economix: The Laziest Generation(s)

Over the weekend I had an article on whether Generation Y — loosely defined as people born between the mid-’70s and the early ’00s — deserved its reputation as the laziest generation ever (a topic I also blogged about last week).

Accusations of laziness have been levied against “kids these days” for decades, and I’d like to append a few examples to the article.

Here, for example, is an excerpt from a Newsweek article from 1993 complaining about Generation X:

Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, the twentysomethings were indulged with every toy, game and electronic device available. They didn’t even have to learn how to amuse themselves since Mom and Dad were always there to ferry them from one organized activity to another. If we baby boomers were spoiled, the Whiny Generation was left out to rot. They had it all.

That’s the essence of the Generation X problem. We have a generation (or at least part of a generation) whose every need has been catered to since birth. Now, when they finally face adulthood, they expect the gift-giving to continue.

Before them were the baby boomers, who, as that Newsweek article noted, were widely seen as spoiled by their parents. This 1986 letter to the editor published in The Times, for example, proclaims that “The 60’s generation was not into saving; they were not even into working.”

Musical theater dorks like myself will also recall that the 1960 production of “Bye Bye Birdie” had an entire song devoted adults’ frustrations with the slacker youth of their day:

I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!
Who can understand anything they say?
They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
Noisy, crazy, dirty, lazy, loafers!
And while we’re on the subject:
You can talk and talk till your face is blue!
But they still just do what they want to do!
Why can’t they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What’s the matter with kids today?

Before these whippersnappers came the “Lost Generation,” the listless generation of young people disillusioned by World War I and memorialized in “The Sun Also Rises.” And so on.

When the economy is bad, older Americans are often quick to blame young people when they can’t find jobs. Somehow when the economy is good, however, young people don’t seem to get nearly the same degree of credit for their professional successes.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=c5fe7dee8638b6770c771d27dc6d0bd7

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