Who Is Generation Z?

Posted June 21, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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.

Check out the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book for more sta­tis­tics on Gen­er­a­tion Z

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.

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