Back In The Day

According to the jobapplicationcenter team, life today really does differ from the days of the past. The recent report reviewed data and crunched the numbers in order to analyze the costs of events and everyday expenses, including getting married, heading to college, shopping for groceries, and buying a house, across the generations.

Considering four generations – the Greatest Generation (born 1901–1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Generation X (born 1965–1985), and Millennials (born 1978–1990) -  the report shows who splurged the most on weddings; who spent more on college tuition; and how much has changed when it comes to buying groceries and buying homes. Generations’ birthdates often are loosely defined, but the study assigned each generation a precise birthdate window for research purposes.

From The Greatest Generation to Millennials

  • A wedding costs a Millennial an average of 273% more than the Greatest Generation
  • Millennial men are 22% older when they marry compared to the Greatest Generation
  • Millennial women are 30% older when they married vs. the Greatest Gen

Today’s couples are taking their vows later in life says the report. The Greatest Generation – a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the people who endured the Great Depression and fought in World War II – tied the knot at a median age of 23 (men) and 20 (women). Millennials, on the other hand, are waiting until a median age of 28 (men) and 26 (women).

In looking at the cost of weddings (after adjusting currency for inflation) and the age of couples among the generations, the study found that the cost of a wedding for Baby Boomers was nearly triple that of a celebration for the Greatest Generation. However, each subsequent generation saw an increase of only a few thousand dollars

  • Average age of Boomer newly weds in 1950: Male 23 and Female 20
  • the average age of Boomer newly weds in 1980 was Male 25 and Female 22.
  • The average cost of a Boomer wedding in 1950 was $7500, but $22,500 in 1980 The average age of GenX newlyweds in 2000 was male 27 and female 25
  • While the average cost of a weddingin 2000 was $27,000.
  • The average of Millennial newlyweds in 2010 was male 28and female 26
  • The average cost of a Millennial wedding in 2010 was $28,000      

Millennials spend more on weddings than any previous generation did. What does nearly $30,000 buy, asks the report. The venue accounts for around half of the budget, followed by the engagement ring and wedding band (an average cost of nearly $10,000). As for the celebration itself, average catering cost per head averaged nearly $70 as of 2014. Perhaps the price of a wedding is why Millennials prefer wedding gifts of cash as opposed to china and gravy boats, opines the report.

In the 1950s, says the report, visiting the grocery store with a pocketful of coins could yield the makings for a fairly decent dinner. When food prices are adjusted for inflation, though, the most striking takeaway is the high cost of grocery items in recent years. Simply between the time of Generation X (2000) and Millennials (2010), the price of round steak increased by more than 36%, the price of bread rose by almost 52%, and the cost of a dozen eggs skyrocketed by nearly 62%.

There is little doubt Americans are feeling the pinch at the supermarket, observes the report.

Food Costs by Generation


Eggs (doz)

Milk (1/2 gal)

Bread (lb)

Round Steal (lb)


$ 0.60

$ 0.41

$ 0.14

$ 0.94






GenX (2000)





Millennials (2010)





Source: jobapplicationcenter, February 2016

Millennials also eat at restaurants more than any other generation: Around 41% of Millennials say they eat out twice a week compared with 38% of Gen Xers and 37% of Baby Boomers. Though Millennials lack discretionary income, one theory is that they rely on restaurants as a spot to gather with friends, as many of them still live with parents or other family, says the report.

For many people, owning a home is an integral part of the American Dream. But since the early 20th century, home prices have increased exponentially, finds the study. Members of the Greatest Generation paid an average of $3,845 for a house in 1930; by 1980, the average cost for a Baby Boomer was $72,400. Fast-forward 20 more years, and the average home price cracked the $200,000 mark, and by 2010, it hit $284,000.

Home Ownership


Avg.Home Price

Interest Rates

Median Age


Greatest (1930)


(50% Down)



Boomers (1980)





GenX (2000)





Millennials (2010)





Source: jobapplicationcenter, February 2016

For better or for worse, life has certainly changed from the early 20th century to now. Costs of everything from houses to groceries have soared, and many people are making difficult decisions about their futures based on finances. Millennials recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation. And while many may struggle, Millennials overall are optimistic about the future in a world that changes at a breakneck pace, concludes the report.


  • All costs were converted to 2015 dollars for inflation.
  • For College Costs the data does not represent the average costs for the entire generation but rather provides a snapshot for viewers to understand what tuition and fees were, approximately, during a given year range
  • For the Road to Homeownership, home prices are national averages and do not account for regional markets
  • Prices are annual national averages for the year stated.
  • The data provided is meant to provide the viewer with an idea of what food costs were for each generation but do not account for any local variation in price over the dates stated

For additional information about the study, please visit the jobapplicationcenter here.


1 comment about "Back In The Day".
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  1. Jon Currie from Currie Communications, Inc., February 22, 2016 at 2:05 p.m.

    Please explain to me how the average age of Boomer newlyweds in 1950 was 23 (male) and 20 (female), when the oldest "Boomers" at that time would be 14. Also, how would that cost of a Boomer wedding in 1950 be paid? By their parents? Perhaps you are actually giving the cost of a Boomer bar or bat mitzvah at that time (ages 13 and 12).

    When quoting statistics always be sure to proof read not just for typos but for logic.

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