Differences in Health Outcomes Between Millennials and Generation X in the USA: Evidence from the National Health Interview Survey

  • Rebekka DePewEmail author
  • Gilbert Gonzales
Research Briefs


Millennials (born 1981–1996) are the largest portion of the US workforce, but very little research has examined and compared their health behaviors and health outcomes to previous generations. The purpose of this study was to compare health outcomes for Millennials (born 1981–1996) and Generation X-ers (born 1965–1980) at the same age. Data on 9602 Generation X-ers and 7786 Millennials aged 20–35 years were analyzed from the 2000 and 2016 National Health Interview Survey. Mental, physical, and functional health outcomes were compared across the two groups using prevalence estimates and multivariable logistic regression models controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and risk factors. Compared to Generation X-ers who were 20–35 years of age in 2000, Millennials aged 20–35 in 2016 were more educated than Generation X-ers, but Millennials were more likely to live in poverty than Generation X-ers. Millennials were less likely to smoke than Generation X-ers at the same age and had improved health insurance coverage, but they were more likely to be obese. After controlling for sociodemographic variables, Millennials were more likely to report poor/fair self-rated health, chronic conditions, needing assistance with activities of daily living, and moderate-to-severe psychological distress compared to Generation X-ers of the same age. More research and innovative public health initiatives should focus on improving the health of the 73 million Millennials in the United States.


United States Healthcare access Health behaviors Millennials Chronic disease Health outcomes 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Medical Student ResearchVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health PolicyVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA

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