Some of us Millennials graduated from college around 2008, we would enter a job market fundamentally different from all previous generations. Why young adults are still waiting to grow up? With high youth unemployment in many parts of the world and even surprisingly high unemployment, poor job quality and part-time work for many in Western countries, Millennials don't take anything for granted. 


Waithood, is not just a MENA (Middle East & North Africa) & Indian problem, I argue, it's something that touches hundreds of millions of Millennials everywhere. As the price of housing and the cost of living goes up, and as the quality of jobs deteriorates, it's Millennials who are especially feeling the crunch.


So it's no great wonder, young men and women are getting married and having children later and later, we simply can't afford it. This gives rise to fertility issues, more people staying single and never marrying and the later onset of career stability (if such a thing exists anymore). 


We used to think of those stuck in Waithood, as some dysfunctional minority, but what if we realized it's a significant part of an entire generation! The economic crunch also explains why Millennials are reputed to value things like travel, leisure, entertainment, developing meaningful hobbies and the quest for freedom at the expense of more traditional values. We have to do these things, to stay sane in an increasingly dysfunctional society. We are literally forced to migrate to places where the grass is greener. 


Millennials are the most educated generation in history and yet by the age of 30, when we are supposed to have enough stability to settle down, many of us are just getting started in the real world. Here's why: 

Workless generation

Workers under 24 seeking jobs (%)

  • Greece58%
  • Spain57%
  • South Africa53%
  • Egypt39%
  • Italy39%
  • UK20%

World Bank


The problem is not just the lack of jobs, the endless cycle of internships, it's the lack of quality jobs without benefits. It's the lifestyle of taking part-time jobs just to make ends meet. It's about millions of men, not being able to provide for a family, and independent women not able to find men with their levels of education & ambition. It's about having bosses that aren't able to keep up with the pace of change and quitting companies who don't believe in innovation or collaborative work environments. 


This results in a lot of young people having to move back home multiple times and depend more on family for support: 


In Italty: 

  • "Bamboccioni" ("big dummy boys") - describes Italian men in their 20s and 30s who still live with their parents. 

In the UK: 

  • The "yo-yo generation" of young people in the UK that move back home after university.

In West Africa: 

  • In West Africa, "youthmen" are young men who haven't yet attained adulthood in society's eyes. 

In Japan and the US: 

Meanwhile, "freeters" in Japan and "slackers" in the US describe a legion of young people unable or unwilling to get a "proper" job.


So next time you think of Millennials as cyber-addicts who have no sense of responsibility, drive and who have a sense of privilege, remember the world we are faced with and the adaptation we have needed to make in order to survive. We look at Baby-boomers as a generation who had it easy at work, where a bit of ambition actually went a long way. 


The reality for us Millennials on the lower half of the spectrum is actually the following: 

  • Many of us won't own our own houses. 
  • Many of us won't have children for economic reasons. 
  • Many of us won't be able to plan for retirement properly or save up anything for our old age. (we recognize old age pensions may no longer exist at that time)
  • Many of us won't get married or will get married later in life (after 40). 
  • Many of us will change jobs, have trouble finding jobs, and change careers 10 times or more. 
  • Many of us will experience a life of continual transition, and will not experience the nuclear family stability of 2 full-time parents who work with 2.5 kids. 


The experience of "Waithood", is a whole new stage of life, an abyss between college and our professional lives, where some of us will squander (or innovate) the best years of our life or choose to become entrepreneurs instead and work in startups, to work to create a world that contributes to a post-capitalistic world. For most of us in Waithood, the social consequencesare quite dire. 


In some cultures, this means Millennial aren't even considered adults or have the potential to find a partner and lead what was once considered a "normal" life. This isn't a lifestyle choice, this is a reflection of the economies we live in, the hyper-educated societies we compete in and changing values in a hyper-corporate civilization where the ideal of equal opportunity & meritocracy is dead. A world, where the middle class is not what it once was, while the gap between the top 1% and the bottom 80% continues to grow every year. Millennials live in a time when institutionalized inequality is normal and when new techno-castes will be born. 


Millennials basically have grown up in a world where capitalism is showing signs of failing and have gotten the short-end of the stick, just like their children will get the short end of the stick environmentally, with rising temperatures leading to more migrants and more crisis among the world's poor. 


Michael Spencer