The Capitalistic Impact of Millennial Sharing

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Lawmakers in cities like New York, Portland and San Francisco reportedly claim that home sharing sites, such as AirBnb.com, are impinging on available housing stock and creating lost revenue from unpaid hotel sales taxes.

"The decision to rent or share rather than buy has impacted automobile and housing markets," said Dr. Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at Northwood University.

In court recently, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Airbnb.com to task..

"When traditionalists feel threatened, they lobby the government to restrict the upstarts," said Paul Schwada with Locomotive Solutions. "That's why we have taxi associations fighting Uber in government channels and hoteliers pushing municipalities to worry about taxes and sublet violations from AirBnB customers and renters."

For travelers, home sharing is a way to save money.

"Sharing goods and services very often makes good economic sense and can help save money," said Ernie Almonte, CPA and chair of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. "As financial resources remain strained, we expect to see peer-to-peer services grow in popularity."

Some 19% of Americans will use a sharing service in order to try something new without having to commit a significant amount of money, 15% will share to avoid purchasing a product they have limited need for and 11% would share to treat themselves without excessive spending, according to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

"It's hard enough on traditional models when a future customer base, such as Millennials, goes to a non-traditional model but it really disrupts things when the older generations start using non-traditional models because a younger generation showed that they work better," Schwada told MainStreet.

About 80% of Americans aged 18 to 34 years old are most likely to use a sharing service, such as AirBnB or FlightCar, but percentages decrease with age.

"Sharing is a manifestation of one of the best traits of Millenials, which is their willingness to rethink or question anything that doesn't suit them," said Schwada. "Before they came along, very few questioned whether it made sense to have a lawn mower sitting idle most of the time much less a car or a bedroom."

But the rise of this new sharing paradigm conflicts with the American Dream of a white picket fence.

"It's a surprise that this younger generation does not wish to immediately take on many of the same property ownership commitments that an older generation considered to be a goal as soon as it could be afforded," said Ebeling.

Although on the surface, sharing appears socialist in nature, experts say that the so-called sharing economy is more capitalistic than ever.

"The sharing economy is not a socialist trend at all," Schwada said. "If anything, it's more capitalist. It's a more precise arrangement of supply and demand."

After all, providers of shared services are not renting or sharing for free.

"Individuals and companies are providing a greater number of rentable goods for a profit and not out of some supposed goodness of their heart," Ebeling told MainStreet.

As Millennials age, however, the inclination to share may dwindle and be viewed as a passing phase five to 20 years from now.

"When most of these Millennials land their first or better paying job, get married or start having children, their sharing preference will turn to the more traditional ownership pattern," Ebeling asserted.

In the meantime, the focus on collaborating that millennials insist on is making its mark on both society and the economy.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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