How Millennials Can Avoid Poverty: Follow the ‘Success Sequence’

Joe Carter | July 18, 2017

The Story: A new study finds that the vast majority of Millennials who follow what has been called the “success sequence”—that is, who get at least a high school degree, work, and then marry before having any children, in that order—are not only not poor by the time they reach their prime young adult years (ages 28 to 34), but are likely to have family incomes in the middle or upper third of the distribution.

The Background: A new report from Wendy Wang and W. Bradford Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies and cosponsored by the American Enterprise Institute examines a group of Millennials whom the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth has been following since 1997, and who were last interviewed in 2013 and 2014, when they were 28 to 34 years old. The report finds that the link between marriage and economic success among Millennials is “robust after controlling for a range of background factors.” Compared with the path of having a baby first, marrying before children more than doubles young adults’ odds of being in the middle or top income tier, after adjusting for education, childhood family income, employment status, race/ethnicity, sex, and respondents’ scores on the Armed…

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