Google millennials are killing, and you will be horrified at the carnage. According to a list from Business Insider, millennials are killing everything from Applebees to beer to homeownership to gyms to football.
The latest victim? Canned tuna. Entire American ways of lifeAmerican cheese, for exampleare disappearing because of millennials inscrutable and presumably unamerican ways. Should you be worried about the millennials economic killing spree?
No. Here are a few reasons.
First, every generation complains about the youth while, I suspect, looking at their own youths and yesterdays through rose-colored glasses. Students trying to surreptitiously play with their phones in class is one of my pet peeves, but Gen Xers and Boomers also texted in class. We just used actual paper instead of SnapBook or MyFace or whatever it is kids these years are using.
Complaints about the moral failings of the young are as old as time. Mental Floss offers an amusing list of mostly-18th and 19th-century complaints about Kids (Those) Years, including, for example, a July 1859 denunciation in Scientific American of a popular game as a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time that might be devoted to nobler acquirements, while it affords no benefit whatever to the body. The game Scientific American was worried about? Chess.
Second, we should expect some industries to fall as other industries rise in a healthy, well-functioning economy. The twentieth-century economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized the term creative destruction to describe it. As technology, tastes, and institutions change, the mix of financially viable industries changes. Profits, losses, and the price mechanism conspire to move resources away from where they are decreasing in usefulness (canned tuna, perhaps) and toward where they are increasing in usefulness (like avocado toast).
Third, if people in the fabric softener or canned tuna industry cannot adapt to changing practices and preferences, it isnt the millennials fault. Millennialsand while the definition changes depending on who you ask, Merriam-Webster uses millennial to refer to a person born in the 1980s or 1990shave spent a good chunk of their youths and essentially all of their adult lives connected practically 24/7. We literally know more about Millennials than any generation that has come before because they have been telling us about themselves via social media accounts and web searches on pocket supercomputers for over a decade now. If millennials are killing this or that industry or social convention, think it possible that they are creating new onesand further, think it possible that you have the tools at your disposal to find out what those new industries and conventions are.
Yes, the statistical tools and software required to mine all of the relevant data for useful information might be pretty complicated, but you still have access to more information on the habits, preferences, and abilities of millennials than any prior generation. The data and techniques are out there. The software is out there, and some of it (like R) is free.
And if you get stuck, you can probably hire a millennial to help you figure it out.
|Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and an Associate Professor of Economics at Samford Universitys Brock School of Business.|