Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 257–264 | Cite as

Millennials and the World of Work: An Economist’s Perspective

  • Alec R. LevensonEmail author


This article uses an economic approach to address whether and how the Millennial generation is significantly different from its predecessors. Particular attention is paid to the normal life cycle stages through which all generations pass, and the implications for forecasting how the Millennials’ relationship with the world of work will evolve. A second key issue is the extremely large differences in economic opportunity that exist among the members of each generation, and which have increased for more recent generations, particularly those with lower levels of education. Other key issues include the rise in international competition for jobs, and the rising cost of a college education. These factors together imply that simple stereotypes about Millennials taking a privileged view of the world of work may be simplistic at best, and likely are significantly off target.


Generational differences Life cycle Careers Labor market trends Work life balance 


  1. Alsop, R. (2008). The trophy kids grow up: How the millennial generation is shaking up the workplace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  2. Baum, S., & O’Malley, M. (2003). College on credit: How borrowers perceive their education debt. Results of the 2002 National Student Loan Survey. Braintree, MA: Nellie Mae Corporation.Google Scholar
  3. College Board. (2008). Tuition and fee and room and board charges over time—adjusted for inflation. Available at:
  4. Derek, N. (1999). The complexity of job mobility among young men. Journal of Labor Economics, 17(2), 237–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Edwards, M. E. (2002). Education and occupations: Reexamining the conventional wisdom about later first births among American mothers. Sociological Forum, 17(3), 423–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Evans, D. S., & Leighton, L. S. (1989). Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship. American Economic Review, 79(3), 519–535.Google Scholar
  7. Galinsky, E., Aumann, K., & Bond, J. T. (2009). Times are changing: Gender and generation at work and at home. New York: Families and Work Institute.Google Scholar
  8. Kahn, L. B. (Forthcoming). The long-term labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy. Labour Economics.Google Scholar
  9. Levenson, A. R. (2006). Trends in jobs and wages in the U.S. economy. In E. E. Lawler & J. O’Toole (Eds.), America at work: Choices and challenges (pp. 87–110).Google Scholar
  10. Lobel, S. A. (1991). Allocation of investment in work and family roles: Alternative theories and implications for research. Academy of Management Review, 16(3), 507–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Meister, J. C., & Willyerd, K. (2010). The 2020 workplace: How innovative companies attract, develop, and keep tomorrow’s employees today. New York: HarperBusiness.Google Scholar
  12. Rice, R. W., Frone, M. R., & McFarlin, D. B. (1992). Work-nonwork conflict and the perceived quality of life. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(2), 155–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rindfuss, R. R., Philip Morgan, S., & Offutt, Kate. (1996). Education and the changing age pattern of American Fertility: 1963–1989. Demography, 33(3), 277–290.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Schmidt, S. R. (1999). Long-run trends in workers’ beliefs about their own job security: Evidence from the General Social Survey. Journal of Labor Economics, 17(4, part 2), S127–S141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Smola, K. W., & Sutton, C. D. (2002). Generational differences: Revisiting generational work values for the new millennium. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 363–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sujansky, J. G., & Ferri-Reed, J. (2009). Keeping the Millennials: Why companies are losing billions in turnover to this generation—and what to do about it. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. Twenge, J. M., S. M. Campbell, & B. J. Hoffman. (Forthcoming). Generational differences in work values: Leisure and extrinsic values increasing, social and intrinsic values decreasing. Journal of Management.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Effective Organizations, Marshall School of BusinessUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations