These are Western Cultural Generations. Japan and Asia and portions of Europe will have their own generational definitions based on major cultural, political, and economic influences.
Which Generation are You?
|The Lost Generation|
The Generation of 1914
|The Interbellum Generation||1901||1913||106||118|
|The Greatest Generation||1910||1924||95||109|
|The Silent Generation||1925||1945||74||94|
|Baby Boomer Generation||1946||1964||55||73|
|Generation X (Baby Bust)||1965||1979||40||54|
Generation Y, Gen Next
|iGen / Gen Z||1995||2012||7||24|
(*age if still alive today)
Note: Dates are approximate and there is some overlap because there are no standard definitions for when a generation begins and ends. See the section below about why this overlap.
Notes on Each of the Latest Cultural Generations
iGen / Gen Z: Born between 1995 and 2012
As of 2017 most of these folks are still too young to have made an impact. However the older ones might be fighting our war in Afghanistan. The younger ones are hopefully still in school and planning on careers and jobs that will have strong demand and generate new opportunities.
I’m personally optimistic about the iGen’ers.
According to Jean Twenge PhD., author of “iGen, Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy ….“, iGens are different in these respects:
(Jean Twenge’s writings on generations differs from others. She uses historical surveys and 1 on 1 interviews, rather than just theorizing and speculating. She is a serious researcher, and a professor at San Diego University)
- Much more tolerant of others – different cultures, sexual orientations, races
- More cautious, less risk taking
- Less drinking and drug taking in high school
- Less likely to go to church
- More likely to think for themselves and not believe authority figures in church or government
- Delaying having serious romantic relationships
- Less teen pregnancy
- Fewer run aways
- Delaying driving, and fewer teen driving accidents
- Less time spent in shopping malls
- Less likely to go out to see a movie
- More likely to use Instagram than Facebook
Whereas Millenials were raised to think they were special and that they could become anything they dreamed of, and then after graduating they found that Boomers had let millions of jobs slip out of the country, iGen’ers have seen this, and are far more cautious and less optimistic and maybe less naive.
On the potentially negative side, iGens are known for:
- Less “in person” and “face to face” contact with others due to more time connecting via smart phones
- Heavy use of gaming
- Less reading of books, and newspapers
- Grew up more supervised, more protected than prior generations
- Less experience with teen jobs and earning money in high school
- May stay up till 2 AM using smart phone and social media
- Possibly more depressed than prior generations
- Feels more lonely, and not needed
- Possibly a higher suicide rate
Careers for iGen’ers – You Need Either Skills or Education
If you are iGen and looking for a career, please pick a major in fields where there will be plenty of jobs and avoid fields where the jobs are limited. Unless of course you are so different and truly one of a kind like: Michael Jordan, Prince, The Beatles, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian (just kidding).
You have two choices – pick a trade or get the right college education. Low skilled jobs will continue to disappear and you can not raise a family on the income from a low skilled job. You either need skills or education.
Healthcare and high tech are the booming fields now and that will continue for decades.
Thus careers in science, engineering, software, and medicine are a good choice.
There won’t be many jobs for people who major in English, history, philosophy etc. Sorry.
Electrical Engineering and Software Engineering look really good. As does nursing, and being a family doctor.
Civil Engineering offers very few jobs since we are not building a lot of bridges and buildings. So avoid that.
Automotive engineering is tough. Not many US jobs except in the electric car field.
Jobs that must be done in person such as plumbers, electricians, barbers, beauticians, should still be in demand, although lower paying than jobs requiring a college education. The trades are more stable than many other careers.
Sales jobs will continue to shrink. Retails sales jobs are disappearing as shopping malls close and as Amazon takes over the world. Sales people are usually just middlemen. Who needs them? Sorry… However, sales people that do business development and find new customers are a different story. But the days of being a shoe salesman in a mall store are gone.
Business development and marketing are still good fields, but will see some unexpected changes.
The auto mechanic field is going to go through interesting changes with the growth of electric vehicles and self driving vehicles. EV’s have less moving parts and fewer fluids to replace, but they still need tire changes.
Taxi driver jobs and truck driver jobs will start to experience less demand as automated vehicles take over. However, as of 2018, the demand for truck drivers is booming.
As automated electric vehicles take over, the need for individuals to own a car will be reduced. It will become more simple, less expensive, and more efficient to just walk outside, call up an app, have a driver-less Uber pick you up and take you to wherever you want to go. As long as a car can show up in 5 minutes or so, that will be the way to go. Owning your own car is not efficient, nor a good investment. Cars sit around doing nothing for 98% of their existence. They take up space, they consume your money on insurance and repairs even while they are just sitting doing nothing. How this will affect jobs, careers and the workplace will be interesting, and iGen’ers will be the first to experience this.
Space flight related jobs will pick up as we focus on getting people to the moon, Mars, and space stations.
Geology jobs, especially related to finding minerals on other planets should see a rise in demand.
Virtual Reality related jobs (whatever those are?) will pick up as VR technology becomes ubiquitous. Probably creating VR experiences will be popular.
The generation after the iGen’ers will be the ones who grow up thinking virtual reality is normal.
Gen Y: “The Millennials” Born between 1980 and 1994
The Millennials grew up and began their careers in a time when:
- Almost every home (except 3rd world countries) had an internet connection and a computer
- 2008, the largest economic decline since the great depression
- 911 Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
- The effect of 20+ years of offshoring of American jobs is finally felt
- Enron – energy trading scams and corporate fraud on a national level
- Global warming becoming obvious with unusually severe storms, hotter weather, colder weather, more droughts etc
- President G. W. Bush, Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney deceived the entire nation about weapons of mass destruction of the nuclear and biological type and the subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq
- The explosive growth in online companies such as Google, Facebook, SalesForce.com, LinkedIn, EBay, PayPal
- A revolution in the way we work, including widespread acceptance of flex-time, work from home, freelancing
- The US is divided 50:50 with different and opposite fundamental beliefs and values
- Way too many crazy people are shooting their fellow Americans with weapons of rapid destruction
- Congress becoming dysfunctional
- Housing prices growing beyond most young people’s reach
The cohort known as “Xennials” are composed of the oldest Millenials. This is a “crossover generation.”
Born roughly between 1975 and 1985 plus or minus a few years.
The idea being that Xennials are more like the preceding Gen X than they are like Millenials.
According to Australian Sociologist, Dan Woodman, “The theory goes that the Xennials dated, and often formed ongoing relationships, pre-social media. They usually weren’t on Tinder or Grindr, for their first go at dating at least. They called up their friends and the person they wanted to ask out on a landline phone, hoping that it wasn’t their intended date’s parent who picked up.”
Gen X: Born between 1965 and 1979
According to WikiPedia, Gen X was originally called “Gen Bust” because their birth rate was vastly smaller than the preceding Baby Boomers.
Gen X’ers were the first generation to experience:
- The highest level of education in the US to date
- The 1976 Arab Oil Debacle and the first gas shortages in the US
- The price of gold soaring to $1000/oz for the first time
- The fall of the Berlin Wall and the splitting apart of the Soviet Union
- MTV and the rise of Disco
- China’s momentary flirtation with personal freedom and the tragedy of Tiananmen Square
- Fighting in the first Gulf War
- NAFTA where President Bill Clinton paves the way to give away millions of American jobs
Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964
Baby Boomers are defined as being from the huge population increase that followed World War II, and the Great Depression.
They grew up in a time of prosperity and an absence of world wars. They were the Flower Children, taking LSD and protesting the war in Vietnam.
Unlike their parents who grew up during the Great Depression, Boomers became the great consumers. They became famous for spending every dollar they earned.
This was the first Western Generation to grow up with two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot.
Baby Boomer spending and consumerism has fueled the world economies.
The Baby Boomers fought for environmental protection.
Baby Boomers were the first generation to experience:
- A time of unparalleled national optimism and prosperity
- The Cold War, fear of a nuclear attack from Russia, bomb shelters and hiding under a desk at school
- The assassination of President John F. Kennedy
- The assassination of Martin Luther King
- The confidence building from putting a man on the moon
- The incredible waste and destruction of the War in Vietnam
- The Civil Rights Movement
The Silent Generation: Born between 1925 and 1945
Those of the Silent Generation were born during the Great Depression. Their parents were mostly of the Lost Generation.
They grew up expecting a hard life. This was the era when a Christmas present might be a orange or a full meal.
They are called the Silent Generation because as a group they were not loud. They did not protest in Washington. There were no major wars to protest.
The Greatest Generation: Born between 1910 and 1924
Those of the Greatest Generation grew up during the Great Depression and probably fought in World War II. They are also known as the GI Joe Generation.
They are the parents of the Baby Boomers.
They were named the Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw, famous News Broadcaster. Brokaw said they were the greatest because they fought for what was right rather than fighting for selfish reasons.
They certainly made great self sacrifices, fighting to protect people in other countries from the likes of Hitler, Mussolini and Japanese Kamikaze suicide bombers.
Makes one wonder what they will call those bankers and insurance company executives who fought only for personal gain thus creating the 2007-2009 financial collapse.
Primary Sources for our Data on Generations:
- Jean Twenge, PhD books on Millenials and iGen
- The Lost Generation
- The Interbellum Generation
- The Greatest Generation
- The Silent Generation
- The Baby Boom Generation
- Gen X
- Millennial – Gen Y
- Gen Z
- US Census Bureau
- Pew Research
Some Interesting Articles Regarding Generations
Why the Overlap in Dating Generations?
In the USA, there are two different methods for marking the borders between generations.
The US Census Bureau appears to use census data (duh) and the rise and fall of the birth rate to mark borders between generations.
Other researchers, such as Pew, use major cultural events to define the borders between generations.
Here is an example of using the birth rate fluctuations to define borders between generations:
(Sources: Harvard Joint Center on Housing Perspectives)
(Sources: US Census B – National Vital Statistics)
Here is how Pew Research defines generations:
(Source: Pew Research )
At CareerPlanner.com we have recently chosen to use the cultural method rather than the birth rate method for deciding when a generation begins and ends. The reason is that we are more interested in the cultural events that shaped a person’s thinking.
What Generation Are You If You Are On The Cusp?
If your birth date falls on the border between two generations, which one do you pick?
Pick the generation that you relate to the most, and the one you want to be part of.
Why so arbitrary? This is not a precise science with firm definitions.
Updates and Revisions
On 10-21-2017 we added info on iGen, and changed their start date from 1996 to 1995, and changed Millennials end date from 1995 to 1994. To be consistent with Jean Twenge PhD’s work. Also changed iGen end date from 2010 to 2012 for the same reason.
On 10-7-2017 we start to refer to Gen Z as “iGen” based on a book by Generation researcher Jean M. Twenge PhD.
On 8-11-2017 we added a section on Xennials.
On 9-29-2016 we made the following adjustments to the date ranges of Gen x, Millenials, Gen Z:
- Changed Gen X last births date from 1981 to 1979
- Changed Millennial start birth date from 1975 to 1980
- Changed Gen Z start birth date from 1995 to 1996
- Changed Gen Z last births date from 2015 to 2010
On 11-9-2016 we made these changes, based on further research:
- Changed Silent Generation start from 1923 to 1925 and end from 1944 to 1945 based on more research
- Changed the end of births for the greatest generation from 1925 to 1924 – for the convenience of having less overlap
- Changed Gen X start from 1961 to 1965 – and end back to 1979 – based on more research and to be consistent with Pew
Why make these changes? The cut off dates for each generation vary over time as the characteristics of that generation become more well understood. In the US, it appears demographers are trying to stick to ranges of 15 years (Japan uses 10 years). Finally, as the public pays more attention to generations, such as Millenials, certain dates become more accepted.
The bottom line is that the experts do not agree on when generations begin and end. Sorry for this confusion. I would prefer to have things nice and tidy, precise and exact.
On 5-30-2017 I clarified that the weapons of mass destruction the Bush Administration lied to us about, was of the nuclear and biological types. They did find chemical weapons which are considered WMDs (I did not know that), although that’s not what scared us into war. It was the fear that Iraq could use nuclear and bio weapons against us. They already had a history of using chemical weapons against their neighbors and their own people.