Millennials and Covid-19 pandemic: an exploratory analysis

by Felipe Debasa and José Ramón Saura (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos) 

Youths has traditionally been considered the period that precedes human maturity. However, the Baby boomer generation, the one we find after World War II, changes the term. Youth will be considered by them as the end of childhood, the culmination stage of human development. This change in point of view is the origin of the rebellious behaviors and a spirit of freedom that mark the decades of the 60s and 70s so approached by literature, music and cinema. The Baby Boomer generation in the United States and in Europe is the first generation that does not suffer a war in its own territory and that does not suffer from a shortage of food or services. Youth leisure and a consumer society focused on young people became widespread, something unthinkable at the beginning of the 20th century. As a result of this scenario, the characteristic cultural movements of an era that has marked the development of the Western world until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of the USSR appear. Faced with this new non-war scenario, there are also youth movements protesting against their model of life. Especially against the consumer society, the rigidity of social norms and the wars in other parts of the world for which they blame Western societies. This is how countercultures were born in the 1950s and 1960s, such as beats or hippies. However, some authors[i] point out that the Maoist ideas that circulated in May 68 crossed borders and oceans and reached Latin America. There they would be the germ of many revolutionary and terrorist movements that would shake Latin America during the last third part of the 20th century.

In 1973, the first oil crisis occurred that shook the world economically. But in addition to an economic crisis, it was a crisis of fear for a resource as precious and necessary for daily life as oil. This crisis marks a before and after in the world as it was known after World War II. People get scared and begin to consider apocalyptic life scenarios. This crisis marks a before and after in the world as it was known after World War II. People get scared and begin to consider apocalyptic life scenarios. A reflection of that time are the epic Mad Max movies that have been reflected in the Transhumanist cultural festival The Burning Man[ii]. In the 1980s, computers for home and personal use began to appear. In this decade, the people we consider digital natives were born. In the 1980s, computers for home and personal use began to appear. It is in this decade that people who today consider themselves digital natives were born. In 1989 the Berlin Wall would fall and in 1992 the USSR would disappear, ending the Cold War that had begun with the end of World War II. In 1996 Huntington would divulge his theory on the clash of civilizations. In it he would say that the conflicts over political ideas were over and that the next human confrontations would come from traditional civilizations. Contemporary to the development of this theory would be the appearance of the Internet for civil uses and its subsequent generalization. On the basis of the Internet, a small company would be established in 1995 in the surroundings of Stanford University that would be called to change society and initiate the global digital transformation. The establishment of that company as a world technology leader at the beginning of the third millennium is what shapes the new change of era for technologists. The company is Google and there are those who cannot imagine the world before Google.

With the third millennium, wealth grows in the world and countries considered underdeveloped or developing become emerging economies. The clearest example is China, but there are others that are now part of the G-20. The first decade of the third millennium is rich and prosperous, but in October 2008 there will be a great global crisis as a result of the brick bubble in the United States and the high price of raw materials. The generation that was born in the late 80s and that is called millennials thus suffers its first great blow in personal development. Like the demands of the Baby Boomers hatch in May 68; The convulsion of the 2008 crisis can be found in the anti-austerity movements, the Arab springs, the Euromaidan in Ukraine, the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong or the different waves of protests in Russia. Although it may be early, to find out if there is a connection between these movements.

Youth expectations of a good job development are frustrated by difficult economic and job development, which also prevents establishing medium-term life plans for couples. This is how some of the representative characteristics of the millennial generation are forged. In this sense, and to highlight the skills and characteristics of millennials, Table 1 presents the main concepts:

We have established that these characteristics of the millennial generation have been the result of the previously explained, especially the economic crisis of 2008.

On December 31, 2019 a pneumonia of unknown origin appears in China. Covid-19 is the first major pandemic of the 21st century that has paralyzed the world. We have been in a pandemic for more than a year and the solution does not seem to be close. The expectations of the young people of the millennial generation that were truncated by the 2008 crisis now have to wait again because of a new global and world crisis, although this time in health.

It is still too early to assess the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the millennial generation, but after a reading of specialized bibliography we propose the following list.

Although we have focused this article on the Millennial generation, the European Parliament has issued an interesting Briefing: Next generation or lost generation? Children, young people and the pandemic[iii]. It is a very interesting report in which it addresses aspects related to culture, socio-economic vulnerability, education, the labor market and mental health.

Conclution

The 2008 economic crisis prepared the millennial generation for digital transformation. The Covid-19 health crisis has greatly accelerated digital transformation, causing the emergence of digital employment. It has also prepared the millennial generation for relocation in the workplace. Just as the relocation of companies and industries in the 20th century had enormous effects on the economy, the relocation of the workplace will have effects on society. Urban, mobility and transport models will be reoriented, and new opportunities arise for places that were thought abandoned or without possibilities.


[i] Azcona, J. M. (2019) Historia del Tiempo Presente, Ediciones de la Cátedra Santander Presdeia URJC

[ii] Debasa Navalpotro, F. R. (2018). Un análisis transversal para un derecho interalgoritmos. Nuevos retos sociales en la IV Revolución Industrial. Telos: Cuadernos de comunicación e innovación, (109), 126-131.

[iii] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2020/659404/EPRS_BRI(2020)659404_EN.pdf

Pictures credits: StockSnap.


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