When our parents were our age, they barely talked to each other about money. And, honestly, why would they? Boomers were getting married early, buying homes early, and, for the most part, making pretty comfortable salaries. Generally speaking, there was no real incentive for financial transparency — why bother making people uncomfortable?
A new Bankrate.com study polled over 1,000 participants about their financial proclivities. The study revealed that roughly a third of millennials — defined as those between the ages of 18 and 37 — had shared their pay or salary with coworkers, compared to only 18% of baby boomers. The study also found that over half of American millennials reported discussing pay with their friends.
Overall, regardless of who they are sharing with, these findings confirmed that millennials are more likely than any previous generation to tell others how much they make. The study speculates as to why this openness may be, including a hypothesis that social media habits have encouraged millennials' transparency across the board (who could have ever imagined 401(k) selfies 10 years ago?).
“They’re posting other pictures of what type of car they drive, where they go on vacation and so on and so forth,” Ricardo Perez-Truglia, an assistant professor of economics at University of California Los Angeles, told Bankrate. “So, given that you’re already revealing all of that, I think that revealing what your salary is may not seem like a big deal."
And, though this may be a part of it, I'm willing to hazard another guess: As our culture shifts to prioritize real talk, millennials are realizing the latent power in transparency, specifically, how it can aid in getting more. After all, if making more money is the goal, it's important to get comfortable talking about it — especially for women trying to close in on their male peers.
Despite being the biggest generation in today's workforce, average millennial salaries are disproportionately low comparing to the national average. In fact, millennial salaries are on average 20% lower than baby boomers’ salaries when they were the same age. And, though these numbers are representatives of millennials as a whole, these trends especially affect women, who still make much less than their male counterparts and struggle to ask for things like raises and promotions.
Ultimately, while it's great to see some numbers illustrating millennial financial openness, these trends really shouldn't come as a surprise. Simply put: Millennials are talking more openly about money because we know we that just aren't making enough. We're willing to talk about it because we want things to change.