One cannot argue that previous generations – like Generation X and Baby Boomers – had to pay this price too, but is it really the same cost and does it justify the outspoken opinion about the Millennial migration that these older generations have?
The Prince Edward Island Government, in Canada, is deeply concerned about the young people who are leaving the province. P.E.I Francophone and the Acadian organization network Population Growth Strategy has shown that Millennials are the currently most important demographic. With the large number of youth migrating from the Island, the government is determined to do whatever necessary to stop this trend. This is not an isolated case, however, as all around the Globe countries are facing the same trend of youth migrating either within borders towards larger cities or leaving the country permanently. So, is this just another proof of the selfishness that has been noted as one of the major characteristics of Millennials, or does it prove something completely different?
The older generations – GenX and the Baby Boomers – are quite outspoken about this issue. Their views on the lifestyles and choices of Millennials are usually negative and judgmental. They perceive this generation to be kids who have refused to grow up – changing careers often, avoiding homeownership, postponing marriage, and giving no thought to becoming young parents. Emphasizing that they have lived through rougher times in their lives while being able to reach all the milestones on time, the reasons behind the lifestyle Millennials promote seem trivial to them. So what makes the Millennials’ migrations so different from those undertaken by their parents or grandparents a few decades ago?
Technology. Opportunity. Entitlement.
Yes, the Millennials generation is blessed with many things. First among them is technology, as the digital era has opened so many doors for youth today. But as a side affect it has also opened their eyes. Being able to see that their knowledge, skills and work will be more appreciated someplace else is one of the main reasons why Millennials choose to leave and go elsewhere, but seriously, can you blame them? The race to seize opportunities to achieve life’s goals has never been so intense, the competition so hard and the rewards so great. Staying in one place, no matter how big and full of options it is, limits ever-changing individuals like Millennials. And yes, Millennials maintain firmly that they are entitled to live life to the fullest. The right to live life as they choose, to reach their goals, to travel, to change careers, to change addresses is an essential part of these individuals. And they are not backing down.
On the other hand, we are talking about the most educated generation ever. We are talking about a generation that was willing to pay a fortune to get an education while often facing unemployment. So when you are fresh out of College and faced with paying off massive student loan debt, do you really have the luxury of sticking to your original career choice? Millennials have lived through major economic crises several times in their lives, and a large portion of them still carry that fear, thus homeownership is really not a priority. Maybe the older generations need to start looking at real estate prices these days, unemployment rates, and average income levels before being so quick to judge Millennials for not wanting to settle down.
One cannot deny the obvious truth that individualism is the No 1 feature of people born between 1980s and 1995. So when talking about migration we must remember not to generalize, because that concept really does not apply for this demographic. As we have statistics indicating that many young adults are migrating, we also have noted that plenty of other Millennials are still living with their parents.
So to answer the question set forth in the title of this article – is the Millennials’ migration a necessity or a choice – one must respond: Why not both?