Young people, even relatively elite ones, seem to have a pretty gloomy outlook on their lives, compared to the previous generation.
A study comparing 2012 Wharton graduates and the class of 1992 that was cited in The New York Times found that young people today expect to work more, achieve less, and have fewer children.
The students of 1992 expected to work 58 hours a week. Yet those surveyed in 2012 expect to work 72 hours. And while 78% of the 1992 cohort expected to have kids, that number has dropped to 42% today.
For all of that work and sacrifice of family, recent grads don’t expect to rise as high in their careers.
Stewart Friedman, a Wharton professor who directed the study, says that it’s part of a general trend toward lower aspirations in work and family lives.
It may not, however, be as negative as it sounds. Researchers argue that it’s not limited ambition among students, but a stronger focus on doing work that’s meaningful — even if that means lower paychecks, longer hours, and slower promotion rates.
Recent grads also expect to switch careers, companies, and jobs at a faster rate than students in 1992, according to the Wharton study. Many also value flexibility in location and hours more than rapid advancement.
Find more details on the study here.
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