Millennial Suffering and the Right to a Coastal Lifestyle


As a general proposition, I find debate about the conditions of different generations — Millennials, GenX, Boomers, etc. — to be not much more than merely amusing.  However, a point that David Harsanyi makes in The Federalist touches more broadly on the way a certain sort of coastal elite looks at people’s conditions and rights.

Broadly, Harsanyi acknowledges that Millennials do show slower growth in wealth and delayed achievement of life milestones, but he argues that this is a function of their choices.  Indeed, delaying milestones like marriage and home ownership are likely the causes of slower growth in wealth, rather than the effects of it.

However, the interesting point about perspective comes with this:

… millennials aren’t compelled to rent apartments in the middle of the most expensive cities in America. Yet, many are happier living in urban areas than previous generations were. Pew Research found in 2018 that 88 percent of millennials now reside in metropolitan areas. That’s also a choice.

And the urban areas that millennials choose are more expensive partly because they are far better iterations of cities than previous generations encountered. In the past 30 years, these places have undergone waves of gentrification and revival, in part to cater to the tastes of younger Americans. Most are cleaner, safer, and more livable in numerous ways—and thus, more pricey. Yes, Brooklyn was a lot cheaper in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. It was also more dangerous, dirtier, and less enticing for families and businesses.

True, Harsanyi grants, half-million-dollar “veritable castles” in high-demand suburbs are out of reach for young adults, but starter homes in more reasonable zip codes are not.  That’s why we call them “starter homes.”

Of course, this point gets tangled up in the self-contradictory beliefs of modern progressives — for instance, that nobody needs a large house with all the fixin’s, but that anybody who cannot have such a house is unjustly deprived.  Just so, the insinuation on behalf of Millennials is that they have a right to live the lifestyle that coastal elites consider to be de rigeur and are deprived if they cannot.  The hardship of the generation, in other words, is that they cannot afford the things that a traditional lifestyle lived over a at least a decade helps a family to achieve.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    When we extend adolescence, don’t we defer everything else?

  • ShannonEntropy

    And the urban areas that millennials choose are more expensive partly because they are far better iterations of cities than previous generations encountered…. Most are cleaner, safer, and more livable in numerous ways—and thus, more pricey.

    Been to Seattle or San Francisco lately ??

    • Rhett Hardwick

      There was an interesting article in the news today about rural areas “failing”. Farms are failing, acerbated by the trade war with China. Employers are leaving moving to more metropolitan areas. So, the population follows them. Sort of like the guy who joins the army to drive a tank, because it is better than selling fan belts at NAPA.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      In all of this, what I was most struck by was “Seattle has become known as Freeattle”. Everything is free and there is no enforcement. Talk about creating a magnet!

      • ShannonEntropy

        You know Seattle is FUBAR when they cite **RHODE ISLAND** as the place to look for answers. Go to the 44:00 mark of that video

        I mean, that is like going to Charles Manson for family counseling

  • Joe Smith

    When you change incentive structures (opportunity costs), why are we surprised when people behave accordingly?

    Make divorce easier – more risk to a woman for being married without her own career – hence higher opportunity cost for not going to college so more females go to college.

    Make reproductive control easier – lower opportunity cost to have sex, not be married, and be in careers (lawyer, doctor) where pregnancy is (was) a natural cost burden to employers.

    Put more males (esp African American) in prison for drug law enforcement – less availability for a partner – hence more recognition of being single longer..ergo more incentive for women to go to college, etc.

    All (and others) lead to deferring marriage and childbirth.

    Movement to more service and ‘tech” jobs – more clustering around urban areas; therefore, more likely for movement out of rural areas (and see other factors for women).

    Rent control/housing price distortions – of course that leads to gentrification – less incentive to move out; more incentive to go coop/condo, less new urban housing stock, etc.

    Not sure why we subscribe “choice” as some character quirk of a generation when choices more often not follow basic economic theory..

  • ShannonEntropy

    Have you been in any Starbucks® here in Li’l Rhody lately and taken a look at any of the female baristas ??

    They are ALL overweight, tatted, nose-ringed, weird-haired — and look like getting vaccinated for Mad Cow Disease might be a good idea

    OTOH this is one thing Seattle gets right: