Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kids these days

There's a certain brand of newspaper headline that used to really annoy me when I was a teenager.  At the time I dubbed them "kids these days" headlines....essentially headlines that play to older people's love of fretting over how bad things are in the younger generation.  Prime examples are pretty much on repeat: they're lazy, they're not getting the education the older generation got, they're irresponsible, they're selfish, they like bad music.

I'm over a decade removed from teenagerhood, but my gosh do I still hate those headlines.   I am pretty much of the opinion that every generation has their own pluses and minuses, and we all need to chill out.  Headlines that say "hey, this new generation really figured out a bunch of stuff our target demographic totally screwed up" are just not going to sell.  

ANYWAY, I saw a good example of this in USA Today (via Instapundit)  with the headline "Younger people expect inheritance that won't exist".  

Oh those darn kids!  Always expecting their parents to support them.  Entitled whipersnappers!

First off, this was based on a study done by TD Ameritrade.  For all the issues I have with academic studies, studies done by companies trying to sell you something are even worse.  Also, they almost never release their source data.  

You don't have to look far to see where this one got ridiculous:
Nearly 40% of Generation Z, those ages 13 to 22, expect to receive an inheritance, according to a recent TD Ameritrade study. As a result, they don't believe that they will need to save for retirement.
Seriously? They asked 13 to 22 year olds about their retirement saving ideas and then report that their expectations are unrealistic?  I would be more weirded out if the study had shown that 40% of them had a comprehensive plan in place.  Most 13 to 22 year olds haven't entered the full time workforce yet.

I mean, my retirement accounts are doing fairly well thank you very much, but I opened the first one when I was exactly 22....you know, after I got my first post college full time job.  Coincidentally, that was also the first time I gave any serious thought to the entire concept of retirement.

They don't provide any information about the age distribution of the respondents, but if it was even, 40% of kids in a group of that age range would be 13 to 16.  I've never parented a teenager, but it strikes me that most parents of kids in that age range probably aren't having in depth discussions with them about their financial situation, and certainly not about their retirement savings.  Even those who are teaching financial lessons to their kids probably limit their disclosure about specific numbers.  Asking kids in that age range to have an educated opinion about this is ridiculous.

One more thing....I don't know what kids they polled for this study.  However, the chances that an investment firm polled children of it's own clients is pretty high.  Parents who have investment firm accounts are probably more likely to actually be leaving their kids an inheritance, correct?  It's suspicious to me that they go from their own specific study to a "in general parents aren't leaving their kids money".  How about the kids of these parents?

Alright, that's all I can say without seeing how this study was actually done.  Now get off my lawn.

1 comment:

  1. I recalled from my high school years a study that had outraged me, showing that teenagers wouldn't sign petitions endorsing the Bill of Rights because they didn't recognise them, etc. I felt defensive for my generation, and kept my eyes open for equal dumbnity by adults. I found it almost immediately, as someone else had done the study on those over 40 with similar results.

    I've been seeing it ever since, from every age group. It comes up in education discussions over at Maggie's Farm and other conservative sites, and it makes me crazy. The convenient memories of people educated enough to be commenting about education on a multi-topic, multi-author blog is entirely unrepresentative of...well, of reality.

    Remember Jay Leno's questions to the people on the street. Amazingly stupid answers.

    Thanks for the warning about the Scientific American article. I will likely skip it, actually.