Dissecting the Claims of “A Generation of Idle Trophy Kids”

Link to Editorial: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/11/04/idle-millennials-are-victims-their-parents-success/2rWDFWXQHo290FqUpz0HOO/story.html

Claim: “While their parents weren’t looking, Generation X gave way to Generation Vex, an amiable, tech-savvy, yet minimally employable crop of Americans who will ultimately need more subsidies than a dairy farmer.”


  • Staying on the family health insurance until age 26 is just the beginning.
  • 6 million young people are not working or studying
  • “They just need a chance,” soothes Mark Edwards, executive director of the Boston- based Opportunity Nation. That’s the advocacy group that recently released the study showing that 15 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds are the new American idle.

Review: This claim is a victim of the hasty generalization fallacy.  It makes a statement without providing the proper evidence or acknowledging the counterpoints to the argument.  The evidence used to prove the dependence of the millennial generation begins by stating that they stay on family health insurance until age 26.  This is true, but Money magazine found this to be happening because health insurance premiums can consume much of the low wages they receive, while the lower premiums go to higher incomes (the ones their parents are making); thus it argues that even if millennials have personal health insurance, the family plan is often the better deal.  Also, it is true that nearly 15% (or 6 million total) millennials are unemployed as confirmed by the cited study.  However, the study’s main goal is to show how particularly difficult circumstances millennials face in finding a job and receiving an education.  The same study also found that poverty has increased and household median incomes decreased in recent years, and is therefore more sympathetic to the millennial situation.  Therefore, I’d give this claim an overall rating of mostly true, but they are manipulating evidence to do so.


Claim: “Even more unnerving, this generation has contrived a new level of inertia, which the Japanese call ‘hikikomori’.”


  • This does mean that 85 percent of this age group is in school or working — albeit many in low-wage jobs. Six million (unemployed), however, is not an insignificant number.
  • …researchers say people who begin their adult lives without jobs are more likely to be unemployed in the future. Bodies at rest remain at rest, even when a portion of one’s idle time is dispatched at the neighborhood gym.

Review: This claim uses a red herring fallacy in evidence by distracting the reader from the aforementioned concession that 85% of millennials are employed by downplaying the legitimacy of these jobs by saying they are low-wage.  This statistic is not cited.  Also research is cited about early unemployment being linked to unemployment later in life, but there is no direct citation, nor could I find a study that directly states this.  Finally, a false generalization and ad hominem fallacy is used in the end by implying that most millennials waste their time in the gym. So overall, I’d give this a rating of false.


Claim: “As the recession recedes, it’s getting harder to believe we’ve given millennials the skills and, more important, the motivation to provide for themselves.”


  • In MTV’s 2012 study on these “No Collar Workers,” half said they’d rather have no job at all than a job they hate.

Review: This claim is victim to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, since it makes the conclusion that millennials are unskilled and unmotivated because an MTV study found that half of millennials said they’d rather be unemployed than in a job they don’t like.  First of all, this study was conducted with a population of only 509 millennials (there are 75.4 million millennials in total as of 2015 for perspective).  Also, the study was conducted to “understand the working experience through the eyes of millennial employees”. Also, the Census has found that currently we have the highest percentages of 25-29 year olds that completed high school and/or have a bachelor’s degree; thus, this shows that millennials are qualified.  This claim is going to have to be given a rating of false.


Claim: “It’s young people who don’t leave the house at all (that are the problem), not because they’re scared like agoraphobics, but because their needs are met and they’re content… More so than previous generations, millennials incubated in beauty and comfort and spaciousness unknown to their parents at that age.”


  • In quarters that close, kids (from previous generations) couldn’t wait to move out at 18, even to the shabbiest of apartments.
  • There was no Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart then. There were no four-car garages, master suites, and cathedral ceilings unless your name was Kennedy or Bush. There was lime-green shag carpeting in ’50s-style ranches with bedrooms the size of today’s walk-in closets.
  • The housing boom, a multi-generational villain, shares responsibility when the nest refuses to empty. Once our national nesting habits expanded to include pillow-top mattresses and media rooms with big screens and theater seating, we might as well have hung a sign over our kids’ doors, saying, “Abandon all ambition, ye who enter here.”

Review: While it can be found that a high number of 18-34-year-olds are living at home still, up from 20% in 1960 to 32.1% in 2015, it should be noted that it was 35% in 1940.  So, the current high percentage is not the highest it’s ever been, although it is the first time in the modern era when living with parents beats other living arrangements for 18-to-34-year-olds.  But, the other evidence lacks substance and is really just listing generalizations while failing to recognize other possible realities why millennials are living at home.  Nonetheless, I guess this claim deserves the rating of being moderately true.


Claim: “Today’s kids simply can’t imagine downsizing to (smaller) quarters like that. They’re victims of their parents’ success and frustrated that they see no way to replicate it. And why should they, if they’re already livin’ the dream?”

Evidence: none

Review: This is a hasty generalization if I ever saw one.  No evidence + generalization = rating of false.

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1 Response to Dissecting the Claims of “A Generation of Idle Trophy Kids”

  1. Winston Berger says:

    I have to say you destroyed this article and you destroyed it well. The article as a whole is heavily based on bias and generalization and you brought that to the limelight in your fact checks. You also admitted when some of the claims were slightly true, which could have been difficult given that you may have wanted to call them all false, because this article looks down on our generation. In the claim about millennials not wanting to leave the house, the author uses as evidence that there didn’t use to be big fancy houses with multiple bedrooms. You could use in your rebuttal for this claim that there did use to be big fancy houses in past generations. There may not have been as many, but that didn’t stop those generations from being productive overall. You have chosen a great article for this assignment, because it is very easy to refute and I am greatly excited to see what you will do with your finished project.

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