What generation do you belong to? Millennial, generation X or Z

·3-min read
 (iStock)
(iStock)

[This article was originally published in September 2020.]

Millennial, Gen Z, baby boomers… nowadays every generation has a defining label, and a set of stereotypical attributes attached.

While baby boomers once dragged millennials for buying too many avocados, now Gen Z are saying that millennials do a lot of things that make them look “old”.

That said, millennials can give as good as they get, sometimes expressing their disappointment in the way in which previous generations have handled issues such as the housing crisis or the climate crisis.

Despite the strong opinions between age groups, there's often quite a lot of confusion regarding which generational classification everyone falls into.

So, without further ado, here's everything you need to know about the different generations and which one you can claim as your own.

Gen Z

Born in 2003,  ‘good 4 u’ singer Olivia Rodrigo sits neatly in the Gen Z bracket (Getty)
Born in 2003, ‘good 4 u’ singer Olivia Rodrigo sits neatly in the Gen Z bracket (Getty)

Gen Z is widely thought to be those born between 1997 and 2012.

A report published by the Pew Research Centre described this particular generation as the "post-millennials", and stated that those who fall into this category were born in 1997 onwards.

Generation Z are regarded as being a very tech-savvy generation, having been born during a time of fast-paced digital growth.

They are thought to be a highly politicised generation, with the likes of Greta Thunberg challenging world leaders to take action to stop the climate crisis.

The younger generation is also making a splash in the music industry, with Olivia Rodrigo being one of the biggest-selling artists of 2021 and Billie Eilish taking home seven Grammys last year.

Millennials

As well as being a millennial herself, Emma Watson starred in the millennial-favourite film series, Harry Potter (Getty Images)
As well as being a millennial herself, Emma Watson starred in the millennial-favourite film series, Harry Potter (Getty Images)

While many may flippantly describe all young people as millennials, the term is actually understood to refer to people who were born between 1981 and 1996.

The more technical term for millennials is generation Y, as they succeed generation X and precede generation Z.

Similar to generation Z, millennials are defined as being particularly adept at using technology and social media platforms.

They often receive a tough time in the press, with members of the generation being accused of "killing" a variety of things, such as beer, motorcycles and the notion of owning a home.

In August 2018, a report of United Nations data conducted by Bloomberg found that millennials may become outnumbered by generation Z in the near future.

Generation X

Born in 1968, will Smith is one of the older Gen X-ers
Born in 1968, will Smith is one of the older Gen X-ers

Gen X-ers are thought to be those born between 1965 and 1980.

The term "generation X" was popularised by the 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, by Douglas Coupland.

This generation is recognised as having the ability to balance a strong work ethic with a laid back attitude, and are associated with the conception of music genres such as punk, indie, grunge and techno.

Baby boomers

Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954, bang in the middle of the baby boomer era (Getty Images / John Phillips / Stringer)
Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954, bang in the middle of the baby boomer era (Getty Images / John Phillips / Stringer)

The term "baby boomers" refers to the drastic rise in birth rates that was noted following the end of World War II.

The intriguing phenomenon was described as a "boom" by American writer Sylvia Porter in a 1951 column of the New York Post.

In the 1980 book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, author Landon Jones asserts that the birth years of individuals in the baby boomer generation fall between 1943 and 1960.

The Pew Research Centre's definition of baby boomers differs slightly, as it states that they're born between 1946 and 1964.

Generational expert speaker Dr Alexis Abramson explains that baby boomers are known for having confidence, being comfortable with administering authority and understanding the value of independence.

The silent generation

Born in 1941, Bernie Sanders is a younger member of the silent generation (AP)
Born in 1941, Bernie Sanders is a younger member of the silent generation (AP)

People who are part of the silent generation are characterised as having been born from the mid-to-late 1920s until the early-to-mid 1940s.

A report published by the Resolution Foundation called Cross Countries: International Comparisons of International Trends claims that those in the silent generation were born between 1926 and 1945.

They're referred to as such due to the belief that those born in that era were taught to remain silent and not speak openly about their views on current affairs.

While this may be the case, they consequently went on to play an important role in the growth of the civil rights movement.

Notable individuals who were born in this era include Martin Luther King, Jr., Bernie Sanders, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Malcolm X.

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