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Oh Those Generations!

Every time you pick up a copy of a publication or watch a news show, there is a mention of the “Baby Boomers” or the Net Generation or the “Xers.” Who are these people? How do you know ‘who is what’? The Census Bureau doesn’t categorize generations (and overlapping generations) with catchy names, so most are created by popular culture, book authors or marketers and picked up as common terms. A “generation” is composed of people whose common location in history lends them a collective persona. The span of one generation is roughly the length of a phase of life. David L. Morgan, in an article: “The Aging of the Baby Boom” in Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging” said, “When we slice out a particular set of birth cohorts, such as the baby boom, and label them a generation, this requires us to locate ‘watersheds’ those events and patterns that mark the generation as distinctively different from the ones that precede and follow it.”

Bill Murray, on his Web site “The Time Page,” noted that “when a major social trauma occurs, such as a war or famine, each of the generational groups react to the crisis according to the phase of life they are in. As time passes, the lasting effect of the event, or events, tends to mold each group’s personality differently. As each group moves into a new phase of life, they carry a different perspective from the previous generation and carry on the role in their own distinctive way. At any given time the various social roles are being played by unique personality alignments, which in turn shape ongoing events. This feedback system tends to repeat itself every four generations.” (Read more about it in Strauss and Howe’s book, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.)

Using a bit of Internet research (which included some conflicting dates), I have provided a brief glimpse of today’s generations that should provide an estimated guideline to help us all sort out those X’ers and Y’ers, oldsters and others:

Generation terms (& birth dates):        Ages today:                  Approx how many:

(estimates available)

*Matures                                             (people born before 1946)        57+ 57 million

       Subset: The Interbellum                           92-101                           850 thousand

       Generation (1901-1910)

       Subset: G.I. Generation (1911-1924)       78-91                            15 million

       Subset: Silent Generation (1925-1942)     60-77                            30 million

*Baby Boomers (1946-1964)                         38-56                            77-80 million

       Subset: Generation Jones (1954-1964)     38-48                            48 million

*Thirteenth Generation—also known as            21-41                           100 million

        Generation (1961-1981)

        Subset: Generation Re-Run (1965-1976)   26-37                           48 million

        Subset: Post-Busters (1969-1980)             22-33                          46 million

*Millennial Generation (1982-2002)                   0-20                            80 million

*Generation Y or Net Generation (1977-1997)  5-25                            80 million

         Subset: Generation Xceptional (1976-1986) 16-26                        44 million

Subset: Echo Boomers (1981-1990)                   12-21                          40 million

Subset: Generation Now (1984-1991)                11-18                           40 million

Subset: Generation M (1987-1997)                     5-15                            41 million

*To be named (2002-2222)                               0 and so on

Sites to See

For more information, contact the Communications and Technology staff.

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Uploaded Wednesday, September 11, 2002

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