Determining the generation you fall into plays a crucial role in helping researchers dig into how people have different perspectives of the world.
Depending on the type of generation, whether its Gen Z, millenial or baby boomer, the different perspectives are in terms of historical events and technological advancements that shape individuals’ perspectives of the world.
The Pew Research Foundation recently established clear parameters, defining millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996.
Categorizing generations aids researchers in understanding how pivotal moments in history and transformative technological changes or mold people’s behavior in life.
While Pew believes it is too soon to classify the generation succeeding millennials, terms such as “postmillennial generation” and Generation Z are being tossed around.
Although the US Census Bureau officially recognizes only the baby boomer generation, demographers continue to describe other cohorts based on birth year ranges. This approach allows for easier examination of how important experiences—be it global events or technological breakthroughs, shape individuals’ perception and interaction with the world.
The Pew Research Center laid down a firm endpoint for the millennial generation in March, establishing those born between 1981 and 1996 as millennials. Michael Dimock, President of Pew, emphasized that generations should be seen as a tool to understand evolving perspectives and views, rather than being rigid on categories that define individuals.
While older and younger millennials likely hold divergent opinions on various subjects, most of them experienced the formative ages of 5 to 20 during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a result, these incidents and their aftermath significantly impacted millennials as they transitioned into adulthood.
The 2008 economic recession, coinciding with many millennials entering the job market, also played a pivotal role. Dimock added that millennials came of age during the internet revolution, further shaping their worldview.
At the moment, Pew classifies generations based on birth year as follows:
The range of birth years encompassed by a generation can vary. Pew identifies a 16-year span for millennials and Generation X. However, baby boomers span 19 years, while the silent generation covers 18 years.
Determining a cutoff year is a challenge as groups evolve over time. Dimock unraveled that “the differences within generations can be just as significant as the differences across generations.”
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Additionally, individuals at the youngest and oldest ends of a defined cohort might relate more closely to neighboring generations. Nonetheless, establishing a cutoff point aids researchers in exploring how shared experiences shape a particular group.
Pew acknowledges that it is premature to define the generation succeeding millennials. However, terms such as “the postmillennial generation” or Gen Z have been suggested.
By the time individuals born in 1997 or later reached their teenage years, constant internet connectivity had become the norm, primarily through mobile devices (with the iPhone launching in 2007). Unlike millennials, those born in the late ’90s or beyond likely have no recollection of a world without technological tools.
Nevertheless, newborns today will likely be identified as part of a new generation following Gen Z.
Dimock figured that fresh data may prompt a reassessment of generational boundaries. In the meantime, he expressed keen interest in studying the generation that comes of age after millennials.
“We look forward to the next few years of observing this generation as they enter adulthood.” Dimock wrote. He further emphasized that generations provide a lens to comprehend societal changes rather than a means to oversimplify differences between groups.”
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