Well-Being Lower for Millennial Women
Posted By Marisa Sanfilippo on August 18, 2017 at 10:00 am
According to a recently released report, millennial women are facing higher poverty rates, higher maternal mortality rates, and increased rates of suicide. At the same time, there are fewer women entering into STEM careers or other high-paying fields.
The Well-Being score, when compared to previous generations, shows a troubling development. The baby boom generation had a score that increased 66%. This indicates their well-being was dramatically improved from that of their parents.
Generation X only saw an increase of 2%, but it was still an improvement.
Women from the millennial generation have had a decrease of 1% when compared to women from Generation X.
Nearly all of the markers used for determining the overall well-being of women in the study revolve around financial security.
One of the findings that appears to have a positive correlation is an increase in educational attainment. The number of women dropping out of high school has fallen while the number who obtain at least a bachelor’s degree increased.
On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing. However, many women described the financial burden of earning a college degree as associated with greater debt.
Molly Monk is a program manager at Iowa Startup Accelerator. She pointed out an issue that was common among the millennials interviewed: student loan debt.
“My loans prevent me from building up savings,” she says. In order to combat this, she has held a part-time job in addition to her full-time position, and she chose to live in an area with a lower cost of living.
Even with more women earning bachelor’s degrees, the rate of those who enter the highest paying careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has dropped. According to the report, 1 in 4 women from Generation X were entering these fields but for millennials the ratio has dropped to 1 in 5.
The study also revealed that women need higher levels of education to match the earnings of men. For example, a man with an associate’s degree can expect to earn about $47,000. To match that a woman must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
To match the earnings of a man with a bachelor’s degree a woman would need an advanced degree. This may be a contributing factor to the increased student debt load women are facing.
The study showed a 37% rise in the poverty rate of women from Generation X to the millennial generation.
In part, this can be blamed on the Recession that erupted at about the same time that this generation entered the workforce. Women were unable to immediately find jobs in the sectors for which they had been trained, which increased financial strain and delayed advancement opportunities.
Another consideration is the lack of adequate financial education. Cassandra Johnson, a publicist and accounts manager, pointed out a lack of financial education is partially to blame.
“Understanding the principles of money management early on would save thousands on credit card debt,” she says.
One trend which appears to be contributing to the decline in general financial freedom for millennial women is the burden of caring for an aging parent.
Investment strategist and writer, Lyn Alden, explains, “I’m in a position of indefinitely supporting a parent before even owning my own house or building my own financial foundation. That erodes my savings ability and will keep me working for longer.”
Millennial women are facing several increased health risks. The rate of female suicide has been steadily climbing over the last decade, and the rate of drug overdose has increased sharply during the same time span.
One of the most significant changes in the well-being score has been the dramatic increase in maternal mortality rates. According to the report, it is a reflection of dramatic failings in the public health system related to a lack of accessible care and potentially inadequate treatment. Coupled with this is a general increase in heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
The report also mentions that legislative action to restrict abortions and reproductive health services could possibly have an effect.
The U.S. rate of maternal mortality is the highest among all of the developed nations and is even higher than the rates in some developing countries. It is highlighted as one of the most significant challenges to overcome.
The American Dream has long been to have a higher quality of life than that of the previous generation. For many millennial women, this has not been an attainable dream.