Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
There are, essentially, five generations living in America today. We have the “Silent Generation” (sometimes called the “Greatest Generation” or the “Traditionalists”) – born between 1925-1945. There are the “Boomers” – born between 1946-1964. We have “Generation X” – those born between 1965-1980. The “Millennial Generation” – born in the time period 1980-2000. And “Generation Z” – born after 2000. The differences between these generations are profound. And if Lodges in America wish to grow their memberships, they need to have a much better understanding and appreciation of those profound differences.
Let’s be frank. The average Odd Fellows Lodge in America is composed almost exclusively of members of the Silent Generation, with some Boomers in the mix. So, how does a Lodge of Septuagenarians and Octogenarians attract members of these other, younger generations to join? This question is so significant to the future viability of the Order, and so complex, that I will devote the next three DMC articles to its exposition. Let’s first get an understanding of the great distinctions between the generations at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found 7 significant differences between the Silent Generation and the Millennial Generation.
1. Millenials are much better educated than the Silent Generation. And this difference is most profound among women. Only 9% of women in the Silent Generation had completed at least four years of college while they were young. By comparison, 36% of Millennial women have a bachelor’s degree at the same age. Three in ten Millennial men (29%) have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 15% in the Silent Generation. The Millennials are a highly educated cohort.
2. A higher percentage of Millennial women have a bachelor’s degree than their male counterparts. This is just the opposite of the Silent Generation. Among Millennials, women are 7% more likely than men to have finished at least a bachelor’s degree. In the days when members of the Silent Generation were young, women were 6% less likely than men to have finished at least four years of college education.
3. Young women today are far more likely to be working as compared with women in the Silent Generation. When women in the Silent Generation were young in the mid-60’s, 58% were not participating in the work force, and only 40% were employed. Today, 71% of young Millennial women are employed and only 26% are not in the labor force.
4. In terms of marriage, Millenials are three times more likely to have never married compared to the Silent Generation when they were young. Among Millenials, 57% have never married. But when members of the Silent Generation were of the same age as Millennials are now, only 17% had never married.
5. It is much more likely that members of the Millennial Generation will be racial or ethnic minorities than were the members of the Silent Generation. It’s no secret that 50 years ago, America was less racially and ethnically diverse than it is today. The change is the result, primarily, of large-scale immigration, primarily from Asia and Latin America, and the rise of racial intermarriage. Among the Silent Generation, 84% were non-Hispanic whites, compared to Millennials who are 56% non-Hispanic whites. The share who are Hispanic is 21% among Millenials compared to just 4% in the Silent Generation.
6. Young Silent Generation men were more than 10 times more likely to be veterans than Millennial men are today. Only 4% of the Millennial men are veterans compared with 47% of Silent Generation men.
7. In 1965 when members of the Silent Generation were young, 67% (two-thirds) lived in a metropolitan area. Today, however, a whooping 88% of Millennials live in metropolitan areas.
Armed with this basic information, how should the Lodge address the Millennial Generation and encourage those young men and women (in the age range of 19 to 39) to consider Odd Fellowship? Tune in to the next two DMC newsletters for some answers!
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California