Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials” as Want to Read:
Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,814 ratings  ·  266 reviews
Everyone knows "what's wrong with Millennials." Glenn Beck says we've been ruined by "participation trophies." Simon Sinek says we have low self-esteem. An Australian millionaire says Millennials could all afford homes if we'd just give up avocado toast. Thanks, millionaire.

This Millennial is here to prove them all wrong.

Millennials have been stereotyped as lazy, entitled
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Kids These Days, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gigi It's fairly specific to the experience of American/US millennials. However, there is some talk of more global events that have affected the millennial…moreIt's fairly specific to the experience of American/US millennials. However, there is some talk of more global events that have affected the millennial generation's upbringing, and if you live in say, Canada, a lot of what Harris talks about will be relevant, yes.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,814 ratings  ·  266 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials
May 18, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020, recs
Lucidly thinks through the historical forces that have shaped millennials, loosely defined as those born between the start of Reagan's administration and Bush II's. The thesis that, far from being lazy and entitled, millennials are overworked, underpaid, and set to inherit a world on the brink of social and ecological collapse has happily entered the mainstream since the time of the book's writing, and the strength of the work is that Harris swiftly and cohesively explains why this all should be ...more
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was ok

I enjoyed this book, but I'd have a hard time recommending it to anyone. I would describe it as a series of essays about how capitalism overworks you and makes you crazy, and how millennials, born into our dysfunctional capitalism-in-decline, are overworked and made crazy. Harris doesn't seem to be an expert in anything other than the on-the-ground experience of Occupy. If you want to actually dig into the dysfunctions of public schools or independent contractor wo
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've never been one to blame millennials or make fun of them. I interact with a lot of them as an educator and I've been nothing but impressed. They're better than my generation. This book is a bleak look at what millennials have to deal with, but that's not why it's relevant. It's important because the book takes a macro look at the economic trends that have resulted in this generation. That and the excessive policing and drugging, but Harris claims that all of that stems from the exploitation ...more
David M
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Easily the most important book yet written on the subject. Any honest discussion of millennials ought to start here. In which we see ourselves as the inflection point of late capitalism, or western civilization in general. How will capitalism end? If we look to the daily habits and life prospects of the generation born since the onset on neoliberalism, we start to get an answer.

talkin' bout my generation...

Mom and Dad, I don't blame you. In retrospect, maybe seems unwise to procreate during th
Audacia Ray
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Strong argument that IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S CAPITALISM.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This book seeks to get behind the stereotypes about the millennial generation to explain on the basis of research what is actually going on within the generation and what is not going on - to deconstruct the popular hype about millennials. Some of the prior comments on the book suggested that the author provided a more fact based and rigorous approach to looking at generational issues. Since I have continuing contacts with millennials in both my personal and professional life and have even been ...more
Jack Wolfe
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so smart, so witty, and so fucking dead-on about everything that it could've only been written by a millennial. Here's what Harris proposes: how about we look at the Millennial generation the way corporations and governments have looked at them since the beginning-- as human capital to be relentlessly overworked, brainwashed into a hyper-competitive mentality, and underpaid. What he finds is so much more convincing and compelling that any stupid bullshit Atlantic thinkpiece about ho ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Born 1985.

Malcolm Harris, it's not you, it's me. Well, maybe it's not entirely me and maybe it's some of you. Either way, I was clearly not the target audience for this book. I do not espouse the term "late capitalism", I did not stand with Occupy Wall Street, I did not vote for Bernie Sanders. Which means that a lot of your conclusions, I disagreed with. That's okay, but let's get a few things straight here that we can agree on:

1. Companies are not hiring women because executives can pay them
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A well-crafted argument for why Millennials don't even remotely fit the stereotypes placed on them by other generations. I don't know that Millennials will learn anything new from this - we're overworked, over-tracked, high-performing, exhausted, depressed, anxious, underemployed, over-educated, financially worse off than our parents, etcetcetc. Even in the few years since this book's release, it seems the conversation around these aspects of Millennial-hood has gotten louder, as our generation ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bleak in both its conclusions and on the potential for escaping them, Kids These Days is still very much worth a read.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A passionate polemic that sheds light on the ways in which our society has evolved to make every aspect of the lives of our children geared towards forming them into better workers. The increasing structure of their so-called "leisure time," the ubiquity of social media, and increasingly rigid academic curricula are all, Harris argues, in the service of making children into "human capital."

Though much of Harris' analysis is convincing, there's a theoretical problem at the heart of the book. Har
Rick Wilson
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Hey millennial! Ever feel like your parents and other adults are speaking a different language when it comes to your life and career choices? Do you ever wonder why you feel a low grade paranoia about your job and future? Do you deeply relate to videos of hamsters running on wheels? Well, it’s not your fault, it’s society that’s fucked! This book will explain why.

This book is depressing as hell. It’s essentially a well researched sociological look at middle class millennials in the United States
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book a lot. It breaks down in clear language exactly how things are different for millennials than for previous generations, and what that's doing to us. I really recommend this to older readers who aren't familiar firsthand with, for example, the ways student loans have changed. In the end, Harris is unable to point to anything to be optimistic about (which is a bit frustrating) but it is clear there's only one way forward: full revolution. ...more
Margit Wilke
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Most confrontational book I have read in a while. Very descriptive and informative but still extremely interesting. Would recommend to anybody around my age (20-30ish) but also basically to anyone who is curious about the future and how we fit into it (as a generation and as people in general). I don’t scare easily but this book did - it also made me laugh as well as cry as well as question what the fuck we are doing. A great read.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
If you want to feel depressed about the state of affairs that have ground you down into the dust but also like hey at least you’re not alone in your misery and also soothe that part of you that feels like each point of pain in your life is 100% your fault and your fault alone, then boy have I got a book for you!
Phil Overeem
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’d like to assign this book to every old fart I’ve ever heard deride Millennials as “entitled,” one thing they demonstrably aren’t. Harris’ book is engrossing and exceptionally well-researched and argued, with a conclusion that’s a few steps away from a great American dystopic novel.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this after that Millennial Burnout article made the rounds in early January and referenced this book. Hooboy what a read. It’s not entirely depressing but it’s also not hopeful either. It’s more of a “hey guess what, we we’re screwed before we even started playing and here’s how.”
It debunks a lot of what the media tries to tell Millennials we are, and explains why the media tries to tell us that.
It explains why we’re all stressed, anxious, depressed and still striving for this ambiguous
Camille McCarthy
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first glance, this book did not seem like it would be too serious, although it did seem like it would address some of the complaints about the Millenial generation and show how material circumstances are shaping the character of the Millenial generation, we're not just a bunch of lazy and demanding people. The book surprised me in its depth, its militant writing, and in its devotion to using data and historical materialism to talk about our generation and compare it to others.
I already had
Marilyn Shea
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author has laid out a fascinating account of what is happening today to youth in the areas of their work and their worth. He shows that the much maligned group of young people known as millennials are actually working harder than previous generations, yet getting much less for their work than any previous group. He traces the historic trends that have shaped them into 24/7 performers, better educated and less rewarded, beginning with the organized play dates arranged for them as children. Th ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2018
grim but vital. i actually gained a deeper understanding of myself as a millennial and of generational phenomena writ large.
Nick Jones
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-science
"MALCOLM HARRIS is a communist".

That's in quotes because it's literally how the first sentence of the About the Author blurb at the back of the book begins. I don't think it was supposed to be, because going two blank pages past it gets you to the inner flap of the dust jacket, where the entirety of the three sentence blurb is repeated identically except "a communist" is replaced with "a freelance writer".

I had a good, long laugh at that. I'm dying to know if somebody at Little, Brown and Comp
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a thorough and engaging look at the economic and societal trends that have shaped today's young adults, and it is bleak but fascinating. The main theme is the shift from seeing kids and people more broadly as human beings to seeing them as "human capital", that is, a resource to be refined, managed, and spent, and he looks at this topic through several lenses including schooling, mental health, business trends, and more. There is a lot of information in here, a lot of which I already kne ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is definitely a popular assessment (i.e., not scholarly/peer-reviewed) of the overall network of conditions, trends, forces, etc. that have shaped the millenial mindset. And I think Harris is right about most of what he identifies. The key elements of millenial psychology actually have fairly little to do with us, they have much more to do with the dense networks of competition, isolation, pressure, and anxiety that have been imposed upon us by the increasing divestment of state social ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it

Some years ago, Jean Twenge wrote Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before. The book looked at how the current generation of kids these days were raised with the unholy combination of high expectations, a coddled upbringing, and low prospects for the future, and the psychological toll that was taking on us. It was really good, but it's getting a little long in the tooth. It was written at a time when the
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a breath of fresh air in that the author, a millennial himself, does not dismiss the plight of our generation as caused by the advent of iPhones or our apparent proclivity for killing well-entrenched industries; instead, he examines these facets through a class-based analysis. This analysis explains the contradictions inherent in critiques of the generation-- the overworked millennial who is still, somehow, lazy. It adds up to a bleak picture for the future of labor and those who pr ...more
Karen Slora
Boring and style were so dry it put me to sleep at bedtime. However, its analysis of how the millennials are not a happy-go-lucky generation is very provocative. Playtime has become work in their growing years. There is little free time, activities are over-scheduled, helicopter parents keep their ambition on track, and the focus is on getting ahead in the work force. They are burdened with school debt, unpaid work experiences called “internships “ (to the employer’s benefit), the blurring of wo ...more
Jesse S.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book claims and illustrates how stressful it has been to grow up as a millennial, which is in fact compatible with the stereotype that millennials have grown up coddled and unable to deal with stress. In fact, I suspect the stereotype and the book’s position are both true and that they’re related.

But the book is flat out wrong on some major points, and the evidence is sometimes misguided and sometimes presented deceptively. Once I caught this a couple of times, the book stopped sounding lik
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extensive overview of the social trends that have shaped the environment that American millennials have grown up in, and the behaviors that we have developed in response. Harris' weaving of "human capital" (where personal investments [like education, self-improvement, professional development] manifest in the workforce to be accessed by employers and capitalists) throughout the work is a compelling explanation for why millennials are inheriting an increasingly competitive and atomized worldvi ...more
Genevieve Shanahan
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super accessible, while also offering a pleasingly radical account of how neoliberalism has shaped the various features of The Millennial. It's certainly light enough to listen to as an audiobook, which I did. I might have missed some of the nuances and/or issues with the argument as a result, but the basic point is repeated via multiple examples throughout the book, so I reckon the core message is seared into my brain well enough to at least make me feel bad when I happily reproduce the pedagog ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really interesting look at Millennials. The idea of Human Capital and the millennial generation being trained to work harder, longer and for less, is fascinating and relevant. This is not the normal "what's wrong with this generation who always looks at their phone?" but really analyzes what has made millennials the way they are, the strengths they bring to the future, the hurdles they will face.

The evaluation of youtube stars and the expectations of performers - human capital - was
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
  • Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation
  • Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
  • Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
  • Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy
  • The Enigma of Clarence Thomas
  • Debt: The First 5,000 Years
  • The Theft of a Decade: How the Baby Boomers Stole the Millennials' Economic Future
  • Having and Being Had
  • iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us
  • The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite
  • Give People Money: The Simple Idea to Solve Inequality and Revolutionise Our Lives
  • The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism
  • Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet
  • Paying the Price: College Costs and the Betrayal of the American Dream
  • In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics
  • Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another
  • Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence
See similar books…
See top shelves…

News & Interviews

Summer is perfect for plenty of things: mojitos, sleeping with the window fan on, and sprawling out with a hot romance novel (in a heavily...
29 likes · 2 comments
“Under this framework, it’s a kid’s job to stay eligible for the labor market (not in jail, not insane, and not dead—which is more work for some than others), and any work product beyond that adds to their résumé. If more human capital automatically led to a higher standard of living, this model could be the foundation for an American meritocracy. But Millennials’ extra work hasn’t earned them the promised higher standard of living. By every metric, this generation is the most educated in American history, yet Millennials are worse off economically than their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Every authority from moms to presidents told Millennials to accumulate as much human capital as we could, and we did, but the market hasn’t held up its side of the bargain.” 3 likes
“No one puts their whole self into their job like a Millennial who never learned to separate work and life enough to balance them, especially if they’re wired on uppers and get anxious when they’re too far away from their phone.” 2 likes
More quotes…