Which Generation Is Which? (1883 to 2012)

I have suffered from some confusion about which Generation appeared in which year. In my social media platforms I have noticed a lot of other people have the same confusions. In fact a number of people are quite antagonistic to some groups of innocents who had no choice in the year of their birth.

I did some research on a number of websites and found that although there are minor differences, there is a general agreement on the eras of each cohort. (See, I read the articles and learned a new jargon word.)

So here is a general article, gleaned from a cohort of population experts. The comments are general and do not refer to individuals but to a tendency. There are always exceptions to any of these rules.

The Lost Generation – 1883 – 1900 – Gertrude Stein “You are all a lost generation.” The generation that came of age during World War I, which took the lives of 40 million people. “Lost” in this context also means “disoriented, wandering, directionless” – a recognition that there was great confusion and aimlessness among the war’s survivors in the early post-war years. In Great Britain, the term was originally used for those who died in the war, and often implicitly referred to upper-class casualties who were perceived to have died disproportionately, robbing the country of a future elite.

The Greatest Generation, 1900 -1925 –  The generation shaped by the Great Depression and the primary participants in World War II. Depression era individuals tend to be conservative, compulsive savers, maintain low debt, tend to feel a responsibility to leave a legacy to their children and display patriotism, are oriented toward work before pleasure, respect
for authority and have a sense of moral obligation.

The Silent Generation – 1925 – 1945 – The demographic cohort following the Greatest Generation. Australia’s McCrindle Research uses the name Builders to describe the Australian members of this generation, born between 1925 and 1945, and coming of age to become the generation “who literally and metaphorically built the nation after the austerity years post-Depression and World War II”. This generation had significant opportunities in jobs and education as the War ended and a post-war economic boom struck America. However, the growth in Cold War tensions, the potential for nuclear war and other never before seen threats led to levels of discomfort and uncertainty throughout the generation. Members of this group value security, comfort, and familiar, known activities and environments.

Baby Boomers 1946 – 1954 – For a long time the Baby Boomers were defined as those born between 1945 and 1964 encompassing people who were 20 years apart in age. It didn’t compute to have those born in 1964 compared with those born in 1946. Life experiences were completely different. Attitudes, behaviors and society were vastly different. In effect, all the elements that help to define a cohort were violated by the broad span of years originally included in the concept of the Baby Boomers. The first Boomer segment is bounded by the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, the Civil Rights movements and the Vietnam War. Boomers I were in or protested the War.

Boomers 1955 – 1965 – This first post-Watergate generation lost much of its trust in government and optimistic views the Boomers I maintained. Economic struggles including the oil embargo of 1979 reinforced a sense of “I’m out for me” and narcissism and a focus on self-help and skepticism over media and institutions is representative of attitudes of this cohort. While Boomers I had Vietnam, Boomers II had AIDS as part of their rites of passage.

Generation X – 1966-1976 – Sometimes referred to as the “lost” generation, this was the first generation of “latchkey” kids, exposed to lots of daycare and divorce. Known as the generation with the lowest voting participation rate of any generation, Gen Xers were quoted by Newsweek as “the generation that dropped out without ever turning on the news or tuning in to the social issues around them.”

Generation Y,  1977-1994 – (Echo Boomers or Millenniums) Gen Y kids are known as incredibly sophisticated, technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches…as they not only grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood. Gen Y members are much more racially and ethnically diverse and they are much more segmented as an audience aided by the rapid expansion in Cable TV channels, satellite radio, the Internet, e-zines, etc.

Generation Z – 1995 – 2012 – While we don’t know much about Gen Z yet…we know a lot about the environment they are growing up in. This highly diverse environment will make the grade schools of the next generation the most diverse ever. Higher levels of technology will make significant inroads in academics allowing for customized instruction, data mining of student histories to enable pinpoint diagnostics and remediation or accelerated achievement opportunities.

Having sorted all that out and without giving anything away, I shall keep my silence.

2 responses to “Which Generation Is Which? (1883 to 2012)

  1. Hm. Generation Y should only go until the mid-late 80’s, IMO. Then Millennials.


  2. Thank you for the chronological explanation, Archie. Also for the brave use of the word ‘COHORT’ which until recently I had only heard in Latin lessons.
    Nice work


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.