June 21, 2016
Who Is Generation Z?
America’s Generation Z is still coming of age yet already breaking records, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book, using data from 2008 to 2014.
Whereas millennials grew up with America’s economy humming along, their next generation counterparts have faced some significant post-recession challenges. Namely, childhoods rattled by fragile family finances and futures hemmed in by sky-high college costs.
Despite these added growing pains, Generation Z kids — i.e. anyone born after 1995 — have fared particularly well in the areas of education and health. Their victories are the direct result of smart policies and investments in prevention, and they include:
1. A 40% drop in teen birth rates.
Why this matters: Teenage childbearing can have long-term negative effects for both the mother and newborn. Teens are at higher risk of bearing low-birthweight and preterm babies. Their babies are also far more likely to be born into families with limited educational and economic resources, which function as barriers to future success. Children born to teen mothers tend to have poorer academic and behavioral outcomes and are more likely to engage in sexual activity and become teen mothers themselves.
2. A 38% drop in teens abusing drugs and alcohol.
Why this matters: Alcohol and drug abuse by teens is linked to harmful behaviors, including engaging in risky sexual activity, driving under the influence, abusing multiple substances and committing crimes. Alcohol and drug abuse is also linked to short- and long-term physical and mental health problems, poor academic performance and an increased risk of dropping out of school.
3. A 28% drop in teens not graduating high-school on time.
Why this matters: Students who graduate from high school on time are more likely to pursue postsecondary education and training; they are also more employable and have higher incomes than students who fail to graduate.
About the Data Book
The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book shares state-level and national statistics on child well-being in the wake of the Great Recession. These statistics span four key areas: 1) economic well-being; 2) education; 3) health; and 4) family and community.