03/19/2010 - The Pew Research Center has begun a year-long series of original reports exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of today’s teens and twenty-somethings—the so-called millennial generation. The premise is that generations, like people, have personalities, and their collective identities can be seen when they reach the age when they can act on their values, attitudes and world views.
The series will raise such questions about the millennials as: Who are they? How are they different from, and similar to, their parents? How is their moment in history shaping them? And how might they, in turn, reshape America?
The first report came from the Pew Hispanic Center in December. Latinos are the largest and youngest minority group in the United States (never before in this country’s history has a minority ethnic group made up so large a share of the youngest Americans). By force of numbers alone, the kinds of adults these young Latinos become will help shape the kind of society America becomes in the 21st century.
The data are mixed, the study indicates. Young Latinos are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and value education, hard work and career success. Yet they are much more likely than other American youths to drop out of school and to become teenage parents. They are more likely than white and Asian youths to live in poverty. And they have high levels of exposure to gangs.
These are attitudes and behaviors that, through history, have often been associated with the immigrant experience, the report says. But most Latino youths are not immigrants, it notes. Two-thirds were born in the United States, many of them descendants of the big, ongoing wave of Latin American immigrants who began coming to this country around 1965.
The report explores the attitudes, values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment and labor-force outcomes of young Latinos.
The full report, Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America, can be accessed through the Pew Hispanic Center's Web site. All of the Pew Research Center’s reports on millennials are available at http://pewresearch.org/millennials.
This article appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Trust magazine.