Elder millennial: This is the year they turn 40

This is the year that some millennials reach middle age, and the CBC's Danielle Nerman explores if they are still eating avocado toast and living with their parents.

 "I feel like they're starting to make fun of our age', says one Calgarian

Kate Brown, left, is a Calgarian and an elder millennial. She turned 40 in January 2021. Noel Amante is a Calgarian who is turning 40 in December, 2021 (Submitted)

The oldest group of millennials are nearing (or already are) 40 years of age. 

There's even a term for it that American comedian Iliza Shlesinger has coined: "elder millennial."

So, how are they doing?

LISTEN to the CBC's Danielle Nerman's check up on elder millennials here:

The generation has been much maligned in certain media coverage in the past, and recently on social media when certain hair styles and jeans styles were pointed out as being off trend on Tiktok.

Calgarian Kate Brown was born in 1981 and considers herself a millennial. She's only now starting to feel a little out of touch in terms of trends.

"I actually have younger coworkers who would call me the mom millennial," she said.

Side parts and skinny jeans

"I feel like they're starting to make fun of our age. I always felt sort of hip and present and now, like, I have a hair appointment tonight to get rid of my side part because they're making fun of our side parts and our skinny jeans, us early millennials," said Brown.

But, she says, her generation should be remembered for embracing technology and a push for better work-life balance.

"I really think people's overall well-being and longevity is going to be improved," she said.

Further assumptions about millennials are that they aren't buying homes, and are staying in childhood homes too long.

Some critics pointed to the generation's obsession with a certain pitted, fatty fruit spread across toast as a reason for this.

Calgarians Kate Brown and Noel Amante are avocado fans and elder millenials. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

But a recent Royal LePage online survey of 2,000 Canadians between 25 and 35 years old, notes nearly 70 per cent intend to buy a home in the next five years.

And millennials in Alberta can boast Canada's highest home ownership rate among that same age range, at 56 per cent, according to that same study.

Calgarian Noel Amante was born in December 1981, and has a mortgage on a house. As he nears 40 this year, he says it just made sense to him to wait on bigger decisions like home ownership, until the timing was right.

"We have longer life spans than ever before, so that's probably why more people are willing to make that shift, because they're expecting to live a lot longer than they used to. And to me, that makes logical sense," said Amante.

"Why not establish yourself a little bit more from a career standpoint, even from a maturity standpoint?"

Amante works as an account manager for Amazon, and he said he chose the job for its connection to developing technology.

"Big tech was really the best place to lay the foundation for the rest of my career," he said.

"I think myself and other millennials behind me [are] willing to put in that work and continue to adapt and make yourself valuable."

In terms of job success, Statistics Canada data from 2019 noted Canadian millennials actually have higher median incomes and assets than generation X, born between 1965 and 1976, and baby boomers, born between 1950 to 1961, had at the same age.

Joel Thiessen is a professor of sociology at Ambrose University in Calgary and the co-author of The Millennial Mosiac. (Submitted by Joel Thiessen)

"You know what, [millennials] are doing totally fine," said Joel Thiessen, a professor of sociology at Ambrose University in Calgary and the co-author of the book The Millennial Mosaic.

For the purposes of the book, the authors chose to define the millennial generation as between 1986 and 2006, but he says the way generational cohorts are grouped varies.

"There's not going to be a drastic variation if you're born in 1980 or 1981 and 1984, like, there's far more in common than there are distinctions between these groups...we try not to get fixated on the particular years and try to look at the broad overarching trends," said Thiessen.

Statistics Canada groups millennials as the generation born between 1982 and 1991. The Pew Research Centre starts a year earlier, in 1981.

Thiessen says millennials overall get a "bad rap and stereotype for just being completely helpless and unable to care for themselves.

"For sure, there are some that are like that but by and large this is not the prevailing norm."

Thiessen says millennials are living at home longer, and explains that is because more young people are going on to do post secondary than ever before.

"This concept of delayed adulthood, the kinds of things will be associated with adulthood at the age of 18. Certainly those things are pushing further out," said Thiessen.

"On the whole, people are eventually kind of getting on with life."

Christa Sata is a millennial who studied Filipino Canadian millennials for her master's thesis at the University of Calgary. (Submitted by Christa Sata)

For her master's degree at the University of Calgary, Christa Sato studied Filipino Canadian millennials who are working as professionals in areas such as engineering, nursing, IT and software development.

She says millennials are actually creating more opportunities for diversity in the workplace.

"They're in positions where they have decision-making power and they have opportunities to actually influence the employment sector and the labour market," she said.

"I think that we're making a much more conscious decision to create opportunities for people who have been historically under-represented."

Thiessen says generational cohorts such as baby boomers and millennials are "far more similar than dissimilar on many indicators," but there that there is a "recurring theme with each generation that passes, you feel like the next generation is going to be worse off."

Not all the assumptions about "elder millennials" are untrue, however.

Millennial Kate Brown admits, she really is a big avocado fan.

"There are avocados in my house all the time," she said. And Amante concurs.

Leger conducted the Royal LePage survey through an online panel of 2,000 Canadians aged 25 to 35. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Regional results would have a larger margin of error.

With files from Danielle Nerman and the Calgary Eyeopener


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?