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REGENERATION X: The American Dream Isn't Just for Fogies

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Are Generation Xers more unabashedly money-minded than baby boomers or have they not yet learned to dissemble when pollsters ask personal questions? Either way, a compendious survey conducted for TBWA Chiat/Day drives yet another stake through the heart of the myth that Gen Xers are all aimless, anomic Slackers. Indeed, the debunking of Xer stereotypes has itself become an industry that keeps more than a few Xers gainfully employed. The report finds Xers more entrepreneurial than boomers or "matures" (those age 51-65) in their approach to success, but it's a difference of degree. Thus, while Xers are the most likely to say you "pretty much have to go your own way" to achieve the "American Dream" (71 percent hold that opinion), nearly as many boomers (66 percent) and matures (65 percent) also embrace this view. Similarly, when people are asked whether they'd prefer working on their own instead of for someone else, the rates of affirmative response fall in a pretty narrow range: 87 percent of Xers, 81 percent of matures and 79 percent of boomers. The content of the American Dream looks much the same across generational lines, though Xers are somewhat more apt than others to say "becoming wealthy" is central to their conception of success. There are, of course, real differences in matters of taste-as on the oddball question that finds Xers more ketchupcentric than their elders. Time will tell whether such preferences shift as the bloom of youth fades.