In the News (from Christian Science Monitor): “The Great Recession helped reverse a decades-long rise in materialism among many young people. Despite a tough financial future, they are also more concerned about others. This shift is a gift for those seeking less spending at Christmas.
“Polls consistently show Americans wish they could spend less on Christmas gift-giving. Well, a new study suggests their wish could come true, at least among younger people.
“Researchers who have tracked the attitudes of high school seniors over decades find the Great Recession of 2007-09 has caused a great reversal: These young people of today are less interested in worldly goods.
“It is not only that they can’t afford all the flash and bling of American consumerism. Many simply don’t want it. This change of attitude ends a steady rise since 1980 in the materialistic desires of young people, according to researchers Heejung Park, Jean M. Twenge, and Patricia M. Greenfield of the University of California, San Diego. …
“But the researchers also found that today’s younger Millennials are more community-minded and show a greater concern for others. And they are not pessimistic about themselves. ‘The Great Recession was unique in leading to more, rather than less, positive self-views,’ they found. …
“To be sure, young people are less able to buy much, having been forced to temper their expectations. During the recession, the youth unemployment rate was nearly as high as for all adults during the Great Depression of the 1930s. More than 13 percent of people between ages 25 and 35 still live with a parent. By putting off a transition to settling down, they are putting off buying stuff.
“But many do not want to own a car, opting instead for using Zipcars, bike sharing systems, and mass transit. The wired generations connect with others digitally. They are more inclined to rent than own a home and to live in urban areas than the previous generation.
“A survey of 14-to-30-year-olds conducted for Junior Achievement in November found 71 percent would rather have a job that serves others than have a job that promotes their personal brand.”