A recently released Javelin Strategy & Research report, Meet Gen X, The Little Demographic That Doesn’t, takes a broad-based look at the smallest U.S. generation and drills down on a handful of financial factors working against its members, who are now 43 to 58 years old:
- Gen Xers are being crunched from above and below, by the needs of aging parents who, in many cases, require caregiving and children who are equally likely to be older and younger than 18.
- Pessimism about being able to pay off student loans that is striking compared with the sentiment of Generation Y, the bloc following Gen X.
- Rampant doubt about being on track for retirement.
I felt every statistic. I am Generation X.
How are you doing?
The Middle Child of Generations
Painting a picture of Gen X required equal parts demographic data, behavioral tendencies, and the proprietary research for which Javelin is known.
We love nostalgia. Come along on a hunt for vintage vinyl sometime, or hang out with me and my buddies when we get to riffing on films like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “The Breakfast Club.”
We are, in many respects, what you would expect to see in this stage of life. We have homes and marriages/domestic partnerships, and we’re building careers (or close to finishing them) and families.
Perhaps most notably, we are small in number. The Baby Boomers vastly outnumber us. Millennials, too. And Gen Z? Don’t get me started. We’re like the greasers in “The Outsiders” having crossed the socs. (I told you we love nostalgia.)
That aspect—being outnumbered by our elders and our youngers—creates a sense of invisibility in a financial services market that is, on some level, a numbers game. While marketers and product makers pine for the attentions of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, we Gen Xers are over here like Jan Brady, wishing George Glass were real.
What’s to Come
“For reasons both explicable and debatable, Xers complained less pedantically than the demographic they followed and less vehemently than the demographic that came next.”—Chuck Klosterman, “The Nineties.”
When I was 23, I said something like this: “As long as I can keep myself stocked in pizza and compact discs, I’m good.” It was the perfectly cynical utterance from the denizen of a perfectly cynical generation. I haven’t been 23 in a long, long time, and I’d have done better to note how few doubling opportunities there would be in my financial life.
In other words, it’s amazing how early the night falls.
Gen X, an odd little generation, needs advice and financial products that speak to it. Meet Gen X, The Little Demographic That Doesn’t gets at that need and offers some recommendations for delivering solutions. A later report will delve even deeper into Gen X’s financial behaviors, fears, and motivations.
In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss this or any other topic across our wide range of expertise, Javelin’s advisory services stand ready to engage.
Overview by Craig Lancaster, Analyst/Content Specialist, Financial Services and Payments at Javelin Strategy & Research.