Even though they were born just a few years later than their millennial predecessors, the members of Generation Z are a distinctive bunch.
Aside from being the first true "digital natives," Gen Z is on track to surpass previous generations as the most diverse and the most educated, according to the Pew Research Center's analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 Current Population Survey.
But Generation Z students and millennials are in lockstep on several key social and political issues, according to Pew's survey of 920 U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) and their survey of 10,682 adults (ages 18 and older).
To understand how Gen Z's opinions compare with those of their older counterparts, Pew combined data from their teen survey with data from the 18- to 21-year-old respondents from their adult survey. And to understand how Gen Z differs demographically, Pew compared the Census Bureau data on Gen Z, who were 6 to 21 years old in 2018, with data on previous generations when they were in the same age range.
Based on these reports, we rounded up a few fast facts about Gen Z.
1: Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet
- Just 52% of Gen Z identify as white, compared with 61% of millennials;
- One in four Gen Zers identify as Hispanic, compared with 18% of millennials; and
- 6% of Gen Z identify as Asian, compared with 4% of millennials.
2: More Gen Zers are pursuing college than previous generations
- 59% of 18- to 20-year-old Gen Zers were in college in 2017, compared with 53% of similarly-aged millennials in 2002;
- More than half of Hispanic Gen Zers (55%) and African-American Gen Zers (54%) were enrolled in college, compared with 34% and 47% of their respective millennial peers; and
- Two-thirds of Gen Z women were enrolled in college, compared with 57% of millennial women.
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3: Gen Z is more likely to have a parent with a bachelor's degree or more
- 43% of Gen Z have at least one parent with a bachelor's degree or more, compared with 32% of millennials in 2002 and 23% of Gen X in 1986.
4: Gen Z is more open to different gender identities
- 59% of Gen Z say forms should include options other than "man" or "woman," compared with 50% of millennials;
- 35% of Gen Z know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, compared with 25% of millennials and 16% of Gen X; and
- Half of Gen Z and millennials say society isn't accepting enough of people who don’t identify as a man or a woman, whereas only 39% of Gen X and 36% of Baby Boomers agree.
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5: Gen Z views racial and ethnic diversity positively
- More than 60% of Gen Z and millennials say increasing racial and ethnic diversity is good for society, while just 52% of Gen X and 48% of Boomers agree.
6: Gen Z is more likely than millennials to say people should be careful with offensive language
- 46% of Gen Z say people need to be more careful with potentially offensive language, while only 39% of millennials agree; while
- The majority of both Gen Z and millennials say people are too easily offended.
7: Gen Z and millennials support same-sex and interracial marriage
- Nearly half of Gen Z (48%) and of millennials (47%) say same-sex marriage is a good thing for society, compared with a third or less of Gen X and Boomers; and
- 53% of Gen Z and millennials say interracial marriage is good for society, whereas the majority of Gen Xers and Boomers are indifferent, with more than half saying it doesn't make a difference for society.
8: Gen Z women are more enthusiastic about women entering politics than Gen Z men
- 76% of Gen Z women say the growing number of women running for office is a positive change for society, compared with 57% of Gen Z men.
9: Gen Z and millennials most likely to see link between human activity and climate change
- More than half of Gen Z (54%) and millennials (56%) say the earth is getting warmer due to human activity, while roughly four-in-ten Gen Xers and Boomers agree.
(Dimock, Pew Research Center, 1/17; Parker et al., Pew Research Center, 1/17; Fry/Parker, Pew Research Center, 11/15/2018).
Keep reading: What Gen Z wants from college search, in their own words
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