State of Gen Z® 2017

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A new generation emerges and surprisingly has some characteristics of the baby boomer generation

The State of Gen Z® 2017 focused on how Gen Z, aka iGen, thinks about money, earning money, savings, debt, spending, and retirement. The study also compared Gen Z to Millennials in each of these areas and found some important differences. The findings were very unexpected and sparked a global conversation about what Gen Z’s emergence will mean to employers, marketers, banks, financial services, families, and our shared future.

This study featured over 1,000 Gen Z participants with a margin of error of +/-3.1.


  • What percentage of gen Zers are already saving for retirement?
  • Does Gen Z prefer to earn their money or receive it as a gift?
  • What is Gen Z’s unexpected view of advertisements?
  • Which type of ad does Gen Z trust the most?
  • And much more!



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This Emerging Generation Thinks and Acts More Like Boomers than Millennials

The State of Gen Z® 2017 is a national research study on Gen Z that reveals how this new generation thinks about money, savings, debt, spending, and retirement. The survey compares Gen Z to Millennials, which is critical for business leaders, marketers, parents, and educators to know now.

Study Highlights

Gen Z is smarter with money than Millennials. In fact, 12% are already saving for retirement and a significant 21% of this generation of people ages 14 to 21 had a savings account before the age of ten!

Generation Z is shaping up to be a true “throwback generation,” already working, saving money, and determined not to end up like Millennials. 77% of Gen Z currently earn their own spending money through freelance work, a part time job, or earned allowance. This is a powerful finding given that this is also true for about the same percentage of Millennials surveyed, who are ten years older!

Gen Z is primed to become more influential than Millennials, and it’s happening quickly. Their practical and fiscally conservative behavior is making them part of businesses and our economy even at their young age.

FAQ about Generation Z

  • Gen Z is also known as Generation Z, Centennials, iGen, the Founders, and more.
  • Gen Z is born from approximately 1996 to 2015, but the ending birth year is still TBD.
  • Gen Z will soon be the fastest growing generation of employees, customers, and trendsetters.
  • Get the answers to more FAQs about Gen Z here.

About the Research Study

This research study was commissioned and led by The Center for Generational Kinetics. The survey was conducted online from January 11, 2017 to January 18, 2017.

The survey has a confidence interval of +/-3.1 It was administered to 2,004 US respondents – 1,004 Gen Zers, ages 14-21, and 1,000 Millennials, ages 22-39. The sample was weighted to the current US census data for region, age, and gender.


~ Denise Villa, Ph.D., CEO and Co-Founder
The Center for Generational Kinetics

Executive Summary

The Center for Generational Kinetics’ second annual State of Gen Z® research study uncovers behaviors and beliefs of this emerging generation toward money, spending, and consumer habits. Gen Z encompasses those aged 21 and below. This study represents Gen Z ages 14 to 21.

The majority of 14 to 21 year-olds are already working in some capacity—77% currently earn their spending money through freelance work, a part-time job, or an earned allowance. When it comes to spending their earned money, it turns out that Gen Z males prefer to spend more on products and Gen Z females want to spend more on experiences.

Gen Z doesn’t make their purchasing decisions in a vacuum; shopping has become a social endeavor. The majority of Gen Z (78%) has used ratings and reviews to purchase an item in the last thirty days. Almost half of Gen Z (48%) frequently ask the opinion of friends or family before making a purchase.

Gen Z is primed to become even more influential than Millennials, due in part to a more realistic mindset at a very early age.

Gen Z Is Smarter with Money

Unlike previous generations whose parents didn’t mention money or focus on financial topics with their children, 56% of Gen Z discussed saving money with their parents in the past six months.

24% of Gen Z says they will pay for college through personal savings.

38% of Gen Z plans to work during college.

A True Throwback Generation

The result is a young generation that behaves more like Baby Boomers than Millennials and is making plans to work during college, avoid personal debt at all costs, and save for retirement.

12% are already saving for retirement.

21% had a savings account before the age of ten.

Gen Z has a conservative view of debt – 29% believe that personal debt should be reserved for a few select items and 23% believe it should be avoided at all costs.

Gen Z is primed to become more influential than Millennials

We’re watching this generation closely at The Center. We’re working to help marketers, managers, and leaders start to understand them and adapt now.

Want even more info on generation z? Check out zconomy

At CGK, we are passionate about unlocking the potential of Gen Z as they emerge as workforce, customer, and community trendsetters. Check out our bestselling book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business, for all the insights and how-to strategies to unlock this exciting generation’s potential at this critical time.