14 Events Shaping Gen X and Millennial Sustainability World View


As part of my forthcoming book Invest like you Give a Damn, I am looking at the sustainability investment needs and habits of Generation X and Millennials.

In the course of research, I identified generational “sustainability” values shaping events and connected them to investment habits.

The graphic here presents a simple view of my findings. It suggests, among other things, that Millennials of active investment age (30 to 50) have been subject to more “influential environmental events” than Gen Xers.

What’s behind the graph? A bunch of data to be sure, too much to show here and keep your attention. So I did up a couple pie charts below to summarize the data.

Events Affecting Generation X and Millennials of Investing Age (ages 30-50)
Major events thought to affect Gen X and Millennials are listed in the Index of each charts. How I determined the size of each pie slice in the graphs is easier to describe with examples:

  • The Recession of 1990/1 (the pale blue pie slice): When the recession hit, three years of Generation X were of investing age were affected (ages 30, 31, 32). This counts as 3 points.
  • When 9/11 occurred there were 12 years of Gen X of investing age (30 through to 42). This counts as 12 points, so the slice is bigger than The Recession of 1990/1. (See the separated orange pie slice)

The choice of investing age – 30 and up – is a bit arbitrary but is based on some solid personal financial theory. Similarly, people over 50 are not included in the graphs because this age group (including me!) tends to have relatively set investment patterns by the time they reach 50, and at the same time, are less influenced by events than younger investors.

Let me know if you think an event is missing or one of the events listed is not so influential! Just so you know, some influences such as Hurricane Katrina and Sandy are rolled into others, in this case Climate Change. This is in no way meant to understate the impact of these events on folks directly or indirectly affected.

What’s Next for Invest Like you Give a Damn??
More interviewing and researching is on tap for this summer. In particular, I will be looking into what causes people to invest with sustainability in mind, and what might cause those who still aren’t doing so to get off the couch and do it!

I would love to have your input anytime you feel like weighing in on things!

If you can suggest people who might like to give me a moment of their time for an interview, please contact me at mdess@esglobal.com


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