Which Generation Had the Most Homework?

We’ve heard the homework horror stories where students spend endless hours each night to complete assignments. This led us to wonder how homework has changed. What’s the average amount of homework students in each generation had?

In a recent survey about homework, we asked more than 1,000 people of all ages to talk about their homework experiences at each grade level. We also asked parents about how much time their children spend on homework and what they would like to see changed about homework. 

After digging into the homework data, several trends became apparent. Find out which generation had the most homework. 

which generation had the most homework

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How Has Homework Changed Through the Years?

When you were in school, did you do more or less homework than today’s students? In the data below, we find out exactly how homework has changed for each generation, and we split out the numbers to look at each grade level. 

Note that in this analysis, we used the following breakdown for each generation: Baby Boomers (Born 1946 to 1964), Gen X (Born 1965 to 1979), Millennials (Born 1980 to 1996), and Gen Z (Born 1997 to 2012).

Elementary/Middle School Homework Amounts

  • Baby Boomers: 48.3 minutes per day
  • Gen X: 43.9 minutes per day
  • Millennials: 43.6 minutes per day
  • Gen Z: 62.3 minutes per day

There are some notable trends for elementary and middle school homework. Homework amounts declined slightly from Baby Boomers to Gen X and Millennials. Then with Gen Z, there was a sharp spike in the time spent on homework. 

Each night, Gen Z students in elementary school were spending more than an hour on homework. That’s a 43 percent increase from the homework load for Millennials.

High School Homework Amounts

  • Baby Boomers: 78.3 minutes per day
  • Gen X: 81.3 minutes per day
  • Millennials: 76.2 minutes per day
  • Gen Z: 96.9 minutes per day

The homework trends for high school students are similar to what we saw in younger students. However, the trends are less dramatic. There is a relatively small variation between the homework load for Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. 

However, Gen Z spends more than an hour and a half on homework each night. That’s 27 percent more homework than Millennials. 

College Homework Amounts

  • Baby Boomers: 122.3 minutes per day
  • Gen X: 113.7 minutes per day
  • Millennials: 108.8 minutes per day
  • Gen Z: 92.6 minutes per day

Over time, homework trends for college students have taken a different trajectory. The amount of homework has declined slightly for each generation. Since the Baby Boomers, homework in college has decreased by 24 percent, and Gen Z spends about an hour and a half on homework each day. 

Even though college freshmen are told to expect more homework, the current data shows they’ll have slightly less homework than when they were high school seniors. For Baby Boomers through Millennials, students saw a 40 to 56 percent increase in homework between high school and college. This changed dramatically for Gen Z, who saw a four percent decrease in homework when they went to college. 

How Much Homework Will You Do in a Lifetime?

Using the homework amounts above, we’re able to calculate exactly how much time each generation spent on homework in their lifetime. Using a 180 day school year, eight years of elementary/middle school, four years of high school and four years of college, here are the total homework amounts. 

Lifetime Homework Amounts for Each Generation

  • Baby Boomers: 149 days 
  • Gen X: 141 days
  • Millennials: 136 days
  • Gen Z: 157 days

How Do Parents Think Homework Has Changed for Their Children?

As all parents know, the perception of hard work isn’t always the same as reality. Consequently, there were differences between what people self-reported about their own homework and what parents said about their children’s homework. 

Across elementary and middle school students, parents of all generations reported their children have slightly more homework than they had while growing up. 

Elementary/Middle School Homework Perceptions by Parents

  • Baby Boomers: 5% more homework (2.5 minutes)
  • Gen X: 6% more homework (2.6 minutes)
  • Millennials: 3% more homework (1.4 minutes)

When we look at homework in high school, we see a very different story. Each generation thinks their high school-aged children have less homework than they did when they attended high school. 

High School Homework Perceptions by Parents

  • Baby Boomers: 8% less homework (6.5 minutes)
  • Gen X: 3% less homework (2.3 minutes)
  • Millennials: 13% less homework (10.2 minutes)

The largest disparity revealed itself when we looked at homework amounts for college students. Across all generations, there is a strong belief that their college-aged children do less homework than they did when they attended college. 

College Homework Perceptions by Parents

  • Baby Boomers: 13% less homework (15.8 minutes)
  • Gen X: 25% less homework (27.9 minutes)
  • Millennials: 33% less homework (35.6 minutes)

What Homework Changes Do Parents Want?

There have been initiatives in some school districts to limit the amount of time students spend on homework. However, surveying parents reveal they are divided in how they want their child’s homework to change. 

The rate of parents who want less homework ranges from 27 to 39 percent with Baby Boomers being the lowest and Gen Z being the highest. 

Parents Who Want Their Children to Have LESS Homework 

  • Baby Boomers: 27%
  • Gen X: 38%
  • Millennial: 32%
  • Gen Z: 39%

Interestingly, there’s also a significant number of parents who want changes in the opposite direction. Gen Z has the largest share of this counter-trend with 29 percent of parents wanting their children to have more homework. 

Gen X has the lowest rate in this category, with only nine percent of parents wanting more homework. It could be speculated that this low rate for Gen X could have something to do with the classic student slacker movies from the ‘80s such as The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 

Parents Who Want Their Children to Have MORE Homework 

  • Baby Boomers: 21%
  • Gen X: 9%
  • Millennial: 16%
  • Gen Z: 29%

Yet many parents think homework doesn’t need to be changed. In fact, for every generation except Gen Z, the majority of parents think homework amounts are just fine as is. 

Parents Who Want Their Children’s Homework to Stay the Same

  • Baby Boomers: 52%
  • Gen X: 53%
  • Millennial: 53%
  • Gen Z: 32%

How Does Gender Affect the Homework Changes Parents Want?

Comparing responses by gender also reveals differing opinions about homework. Women are much more likely than men to think their children should have less homework. 

Parents Who Want Their Children to Have LESS Homework 

  • Male: 27%
  • Female: 38%

The gender difference among parents who want to see more homework is relatively small, with women slightly less likely to want more homework. 

Parents Who Want Their Children to Have MORE Homework 

  • Male: 16%
  • Female: 13%

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