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august issue /2022
GENERATION MILLENNIALS: ARE PETS REPLACING CHILDREN?
Times are changing. For millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) children come later in life or are replaced by a dog or a cat, and sometimes by more exotic animals.
Despite being a more technological generation, they have not lost the maternal instinct or the desire to be parents. However, there are several circumstances that postpone this dream or life project.
So, what's really going on?
The vast majority of these young people, including those who obtain an academic degree, live a huge financial crisis and are immediately forced to define priorities, leaving many of their dreams on the back burner: "maybe one day, when things get better...".
The number of jobs on offer in the training area is often scarce, as well as the salaries that are increasingly lower and less congruent with the current economic situation: the daily increase in inflation, the exponential rise in the cost of living, the absurd value of selling or renting property, etc.
Consequently, the financial independence needed to leave one's parents' home and start one's own family is becoming an increasingly unattainable goal, and this is being reflected in the levels of anxiety and depression seen in this generation today.
The percentage of 18 to 34 year olds still living at home with their parents has been steadily increasing, and in 2010 it was already around 29.9% (Goldman Sachs, 2022).
But this generation, despite all the economic restrictions, has an increased awareness of animal welfare and the importance of the medical and veterinary care of their animals, often treating them as their own children. It is estimated that 76% of young people aged between 20 and 38 own at least one pet.
Pet Humanization effect
It was this generation that created the so-called " pet humanization" effect. A child's health bulletin has been replaced by a health bulletin, a pediatrician by a veterinarian and a baby's cot by a big fluffy bed. Visits to pet clothing and accessory shops become a routine, the best diets are selected and the best hygiene and aesthetic care is provided, so that their "children" are always healthy and happy. They are without a doubt the generation with the largest number of pets and these represent their first family.
Even during leisure time they choose animals as their favourite company, and many of them already have a passport and accompany their "parents" everywhere. The mobile phone galleries are filled with various moments with animals, such as birthdays, the festivities, the new toy... Everything is celebrated and remembered.
In the following graphic we can see that 42% of millennials consider their pets as their children and there are several behaviours in which they put their " substitute children" in first place:
So, are pets really replacing children?
Millennials choose or prefer animals to children because they consider that the financial investment is lower, education is less costly and stressful, they are less challenging, more obedient, love unconditionally without asking for anything in return, and are also able to help with mental/emotional disorders, confirmed by the exponential increase in the number of pets seen around the world during the pandemic situation we experienced.
On one side, millennials are undoubtedly a generation passionate about the animal world, with greater awareness of animal welfare and respect for animal life, but on the other side they are responsible for the humanization of pets, whose less positive effects are now being discussed.