So much for the reputation of millennials being slackers.
Teachers who were born between 1980 and 2000 are far more likely than their older peers to want financial literacy education added to the elementary school curriculum.
It's not by a small margin either, with 62% of the younger group advocating the change, versus 51% of non-millennials. The older group tend to believe such education should be conducted primarily at home.
The findings come from a recently published report titled, Bridging the Financial Literacy Gap: Empowering teachers to support the next generation from accounting firm PwC, also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers. The study also showed that millennial educators were twice as likely as their older colleagues to seek grants to help fund financial literacy education, with about 20% doing so.
"I was surprised by the findings because six months ago, data showed that the financial ability of millennials was lower than any other generation," says Shannon Schuyler, chief purpose officer and corporate responsibility leader at PwC. The earlier report, from January, found that nearly 30% of millennials were overdrawing their checking accounts, and 81% had at least one long-term debt.
The findings may not be as much at odds with each other as they appear at first glance: "My theory is that millenials were the first ones who, early on, saw the results of lack of financial discipline," says Jason Dorsey, millennials researcher and cofounder of The Center for Generational Kinetics in Austin, Texas. "This is a generation of teachers who are entering the profession with the most debt ever."
That a majority of this cadre of educators wants to add to their workload "is a really bold statement," he adds. Teaching generally isn't the highest-paid profession, and extra work carries little financial reward -- at least for the people doing it. For the students, however, it could pay off immensely.
The debt loads carried by millennials have had personal as well as macro-economic impacts, delaying home purchases and the start of families, which hurts housing companies such as those tracked by the SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB - Get Report) exchange-traded fund. It's worth noting that there hasn't been a strong economic recovery in the United States since World War II in which housing didn't play a major role.
For instance, the recovery from the most recent recession, from 2007 to 2009, has been anything but robust and millennials may be playing an outsize role. The generation, born between 1980 and 2000, is the largest in U.S. history, with a population of 92 million that easily outpaces baby boomers, amplifying the effects of their financial decisions.
PwC's findings also dispel another stereotype: "The general idea that millennials are all looking for trophies without the hard work is just a myth," says Jeff Fromm, partner at ad agency Barkley. "There is an interest in finance; they want information and they want it online."
Or put another way, the same old ways of presenting financial information just won't work.
Truthfully, that may be a long overdue change to financial education.