Conger, Jay A. “How ‘Gen X’ Managers Manage.”
ISSUE
Pages 22 and 24

When the University of California at Los Angeles asked freshmen in 1993 whether “to be very well off financially” was an objective they considered essential or very important, 74.5 percent responded in the affirmative. The figure in 1971 was just 40.1 percent. When asked why it was very important to go to college, 75.1 percent of freshmen in 1993 said “to make more money.” Only 49.9 percent said so in 1971....

In 1890, for example, only 16 percent of parents believed that independence was an important quality; but by the end of the 1970’s, approximately 75 percent felt that independence was the most important character trait.

As independence has grown in importance, its antithesis—obedience—has diminished steadily as a valued trait. For example, 64 percent of parents in 1890 cited obedience as one of the three most important characteristics in child-rearing. This fell to 17 percent by 1978. This gap between the two traits has only grown further with Generation X. The heightened importance of independence is, in part, related to the nation’s growing affluence. People have more money for the services and machinery needed to run a household. That has made them less dependent on family and
community.