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X-ray Millennials

What's new about the Y Generation

Everybody talks about it, and often through clichés. Some distinguish millennials from Generation Y; others, such as Wikipedia, consider them as a whole. Some sources refer to youths who were born between the early 80s and 2001, while others consider all those who were born between 1981 and 1997.

In Europe, as revealed by the Pew Research Center, millennials represent 24% of the entire population considering the 28 Member States. The highest number, 14 million, is registered in Germany; while the lowest belongs to Greece with just 2 million. According to ISTAT (2015) in Italy people between 20 and 29 years are over 6 million. This generation witnessed great technology changes and changed with it: they are disillusioned, cosmopolitan and, above all, hyper-connected.

Despite this, the portrait of these young people is not obvious as it seems at first sight. Even if they are familiar with technology and spend online almost 70% of their daytime, the Intel Security’s study “Digital Detox: Unplugging on Summer Vacation” reveals that millennials are more likely to unplug while on vacation than generation X. The research, conducted to better understand the ways consumers stay digitally connected while travelling, contradicts a cliché, because 49% of millennials are willing to leave their smartphone at home while on vacation than those in their 40s and 50s.

The analysis of the Wall Street Journal based on Federal Reserve data is even more significant and overturns the myth of the start-up founded by twentysomethings youngsters in an open space. People under 30 who go into a business have dropped by 65% since 1980 and according to the Kauffman Foundation the average age of a successful start-up founder is 40. To be honest, in the last two decades the only demographic group characterized by a growing number of entrepreneurs is the one formed by people who are 55 - 65 years.

Young people, however, don’t lack business mentality, as said Britt Hysen, editor of the MiLLENNiAL magazine: “60% of millennials consider themselves entrepreneurs and 90% recognize entrepreneurship as a mindset”. At the moment, however, adults of generation X still do most of the work. And the reason, especially in the US, is that the students’ debts have gradually increased in recent years: which means a lower unavailability to take risks. Millennials have a very different risk perception from the one of their parents, and, despite their flexibility, they are also an under-insured generation, seeking to obtain targeted resources and policies.

The cliché that young people break their contracts to start their own company, so far, has not yet become a reality. However, this is a scenario for which it is worth cheering. Millennial’s generation is maybe nothing but an inactive entrepreneurial volcano that is getting ready to erupt over a decade.