Most Americans believe today’s children will be poorer than their parents, Pew finds

Gen Z
  • The economy might finally be rebounding from the pandemic, but not for everyone.
  • A new Pew Research Center survey found that respondents think kids will be worse off than their parents.
  • Younger workers have already been hit by at least one recession and a pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The economy might be picking up, and people are growing a tad more optimistic, but many still think economic wounds will have a long-lasting impact.

A new Pew Research Center survey found that across 17 publics including the US a majority of respondents think kids will be financially worse off than their parents. Across everyone surveyed, a median of 64% were pessimistic about childrens’ financial futures.

That number was higher for US respondents, with 68% saying they think that kids will be financially worse off. However, respondents in France and Japan were even more concerned, with 77% of respondents in both countries saying that they think kids will be financially worse off.

Another generational wealth gap

As Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported, there’s already a wealth gap between boomers and millennials. The older generation has benefited from everything from low interest rates to investments in companies that bolster pollution – a problem that will exacerbate the climate crisis and its strain on the younger generation.

That’s on top of the Great Recession already leaving millennials behind when it comes to wealth accumulation; as Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that millennials earned 34% less than they would have had there been no recession.

Plus, the past year has brought yet another recession. This time, younger workers were again pummeled. According to a report from the International Labour Organization, workers ages 15-24 saw employment losses of 8.7%; among adults, employment loss was broadly 3.7%. That report warned that Gen Z, which has dealt with education cut short by the pandemic and a recession during their entry to workforce, was at risk of becoming a “lost generation.”

As Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported, Gen Z was the most unemployed generation in the wake of pandemic’s economic devastation. However, some hope may be on the horizon: Gen Z will still take over the economy in a decade, Hoffower reported, despite the pandemic potentially making them lose out on $10 trillion in earnings.

On the whole, a median 52% of respondents in the Pew survey – and 71% in the US – still think that the current economic situation is bad. In New Zealand and Australia, respondents were more optimistic, with over 70% of respondents in both answering that the economic situation is good.

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Gen Z investors are taking more risks, picking up bad investing habits in the hunt to get rich quick, survey finds

young people on phones
Young investors can make mistakes that can end up costing them

  • Gen Z investors are aiming to use market opportunities and make short-term profits, a Barclays survey found.
  • They trade often, take bigger risks and track their portfolios closely – habits criticised by investing experts.
  • At the same time, so-called ‘Finfluencers’ are sharing stock and investment strategy tips for fast, high returns.
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Gen Z investors are all about making quick gains. They trade more frequently, they take on more risk and are picking up other traditionally ‘bad’ investment habits in the process, a Barclays survey found this week.

“Over a fifth (21 per cent) of Gen Z investors say they are investing to take advantage of the market and 16% plan to ‘play the markets’ to get rich quick,” the survey found. Most Gen Z investors additionally planned to dissolve investments within five years, according to Barclays.

Over the past year especially, Gen Z investors have also become more prone to taking risks when investing – almost a third of survey respondents admitted to this.

“The last year has also seen younger investors pick up investing habits that are traditionally viewed as unfavourable,” Barclays noted. As well as an increased risk appetite and investing more speculatively, the survey found that Gen Z investors traded more frequently and monitored their portfolios more often and closely.

Gen Z, or “zoomers”, are generally understood to be those individuals born roughly between 1997 to 2012, to so-called Gen X parents.

Older generations were found to be more focused on long-term goals, like purchasing real estate, when investing and had not become significantly more susceptible to risk over the past year.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and alongside the corresponding rise in retail trading, a new type of social media influencer has emerged – and it’s one that appeals to Gen Zers. “Finfluencers”, or financial influencers, are especially popular on TikTok, where over 45% of all US-based users are of Gen Z age, according to statista.com.

The hashtags ‘#FinTok’, ‘#StockTok’, ‘#finance’ and ‘#investing’, which are commonly used by influencers who share finance- and investment-based content, have almost 7.5 billion views between them. The type of videos posted under these tags however varies greatly.

On the one side, there are finfluencers that use their platform to provide financial education, fight back against sexism that still exists within the world of finance and investing, or show how they use cryptocurrencies to make purchases.

On the other side, many accounts promote specific stock investments or strategies – often leading with a promise of quick and high returns if users follow the approach. Videos with titles like “Stocks that will make me rich by 2022”, “Three penny-stocks ready to take off this week” or “How to retire at 22 years old” seem to dominate financial hashtags when scrolling through TikTok.

Crucially, finfluencers rarely are qualified financial professionals. Instead, they are often just dipping their toes into the investment waters as well. Many clarify this on their profiles, but this does not seem to stop audiences from following their advice and strategies.

A recent Motley Fool survey showed that social media buzz is the fourth most important factor in deciding whether to invest in a certain stock or not among Gen Z investors – highlighting just how influential finfluencers can be and how significant a role they play in young investing.

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Gen Z is going to have a hard time getting rich

gen z
Gen Z is set to make less money on stocks and bonds.

  • Gen Z will earn a third less on stock and bond investments than past generations, Credit Suisse found.
  • They can expect average annualized returns of just 2%, according to the bank’s investment returns yearbook.
  • Another obstacle for Gen Z: they’ve been the most unemployed during the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gen Z is walking a rocky road to getting rich.

They’re set to earn less than previous generations on stocks and bonds, according to Credit Suisse’s global investment returns yearbook.

In fact, the generation can expect average annual real returns of just 2% on their investment portfolios – a third less than the 5%-plus real returns that millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers have seen. Credit Suisse’s analysis took in average investment returns since 1900 and forecasted them going forward for Gen Z.

The yearbook acknowledges that marked deflation could increase bond returns, The Economist reported, but it said inflation is more of a concern. What the report calls a “low-return world” is yet another another financial obstacle for the generation, who may be on track to repeat millennials’ money problems.

A December Bank of America Research report called “OK Zoomer” found that the pandemic will impact Gen Z’s financial and professional future in the same way that the Great Recession did for millennials.

“Like the financial crisis in 2008 to 2009 for millennials, Covid will challenge and impede Gen Z’s career and earning potential,” the report reads, adding that a significant portion of Gen Z is entering adulthood in the midst of a recession, just as a cohort of millennials did. “Like a decade ago, the economic cost of this recession is likely to hit the youngest and least experienced generation the most.”

Gen Z was hit hardest in the workforce

Gen Z been been impacted the most in the workforce, facing the highest unemployment rates.

They entered a job market crippled by a 14.7% unemployment rate in May – greater than the 10% unemployment rate the Great Recession saw at its 2009 peak. Those ages 20 to 24 had an unemployment rate of nearly 27% when the unemployment peaked last April according to data from the St. Louis Fed, more than any other generation.

Recessions typically hit younger workers hardest in the short-term, but can reap long-term consequences.

“The way a recession can really hurt people just starting out can have lasting effects,” Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist and the director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, previously told Insider. “There’s a lot of evidence that the first postgrad job you get sets the stage in some important way for later.”

Recession graduates typically see stagnated wages that can last up to 15 years, Stanford research shows. That was the case for the oldest millennials graduating into the Great Recession, who in 2016 saw wealth levels 34% lower than that of previous generations at the same age, per the St. Louis Fed.

A follow-up study showed that by 2019, this cohort had narrowed that wealth deficit down to 11%. Such financial catch-up could be an optimistic sign for Gen Z in terms of regaining any ground lost building wealth during the pandemic.

However, millennials have had a 5%-plus annualized investment return on their side. With a projected 2% annual return for Gen Z, building wealth may be even harder to do.

There’s more to building wealth

Of course, stocks and bonds are just two asset classes. There are other ways Gen Z can build wealth, such as investing in real estate or by becoming successful entrepreneurs. Many Gen Zers have already embarked on an entrepreneurial path as early as their teen years, which could go a long way in wealth creation.

But the pandemic has caused a housing frenzy that led to depleted inventory and inflated housing prices, making it more difficult to buy real estate – and build wealth through it. And while more prospective new businesses were formed in 2020 than ever before, almost a third of existing small businesses were wiped out by the pandemic. Altogether, the pandemic could ultimately cause Gen Z to potentially lose $10 trillion in earnings.

Within the next decade, Gen Z’s income will rise to such a point that they’ll effectively take over the economy, but their wealth could well be far behind previous generations by the time they get there.

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