According to a new SunTrust poll, one-third of millennial homeowners say their decision to buy a home was affected by their desire for more space for their dog. Of millennials surveyed, 66 percent cited more living space, 36 percent cared about building equity, and about 25 percent wanted a home due to getting married. About 33 percent were focused on providing a better standard of living for their dogs.
At first glance, this could be construed as yet another rite of passage millennials are ruining––more millennials care about their dogs than getting married, or the birth of a child?
But anyone who cares about subjective value should realize that change is natural, and that it's reasonable for millennials to make financial decisions based off what they want. Having the freedom to do that is, after all, very traditionally American.
Subjective value debunks the idea that there's inherent value to a product, or that value directly equates to the amount of labor it took to produce something. Instead, subjective value is all about how much a product is worth to an individual based on what they need or want––a basic premise.
But when naysayer headlines circulate about how millennials are ruining this and that, they're failing to take one crucial thing into account: millennials are putting their money toward products they care about, and even if those preferences are different than in the past, it's not inherently bad. If they're choosing to do so voluntarily, and then gaining happiness from it, it seems like a great financial decision.
The fact that so many millennials are delaying marriage and childrearing is easy to ridicule, especially while some of them descend into perpetual adolescence, moving back in with their parents at 23 or 24––many of their parents, at that age, had already served in war, gotten married, and had multiple children. And though these specific trends are perhaps more worthy of judgement, many others aren't.
If millennials are choosing to adopt animals and prioritize their quality of life, that's not negative for society overall, nor does it hurt anyone.
For many millennials, caring for a dog might be a good warm up for having a child, or simply a way to combat selfishness by nurturing a creature in need. The same people lamenting the "selfish millennial" or "the me me me generation" (yet another unfortunate stereotype, partially grounded in reality) will likely be up in arms about millennials and their strange obsessions with their dogs. But those two concepts are directly in conflict with one another.
Some millennial trends do threaten certain industries, and other trends seem quite insane to older generations (remember man-buns, in all their glory?), but it's not all bad. Many millennials are staying in the same jobs at the same rate as the previous generation, welcoming of people from diverse backgrounds, and supportive of pursuing more common sense drug policy (even despite partisan affiliation). Millennials are getting divorced at lower rates and, although marriage is often delayed to the chagrin of excited family members, cohabitation is increasingly common and leads to marriage more than half the time.
Millennials have different preferences and values than their parents and grandparents, but if these preferences don't hurt anyone, why should they be ridiculed?
Liz Wolfe (@lizzywol) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is managing editor at Young Voices and lives in Austin, Texas, with her dog, Buddy.
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