Who are the Baby Boomers and Other Generations?

By Penny Hoffmann

“Not those boomers again”. We often hear generational terms thrown about during discussions about, say, who is better. But who are these generations and what have they generally stood for?

A “generation”, according to Collins Dictionary, is “all the people in a group or country who are of a similar age, especially when they are considered as having the same experiences or attitudes.” Individually, not everyone completely matches the behavior of the generation they fall into, but on a collective scale generations have experienced similar trends at the same age period through similar channels (TV, radio, the internet, etc). These trends can predict the conduct of the generations. The three main trends that shape generations, according to The Center for Generation Kinetics, are parenting, technology and economics.

The following definitions of the generations regarding their birth period and current age are from Pew Research. Most of the findings specifically relates to the generations of the United States, however nations across the world do share similarities.

The Greatest Generation/Swing Generation:

The Greater Generation is born before 1928. In 2019, their age is between 92 and 104. Members constitute the teenagers during the Great Depression, and the fighters in World War Two.  The Greatest Generation can also be known as the Swing Generation due to the upsurge in Jazz music.

The Silent Generation:

The Silent Generation is born between 1928 and 1945. Their age in 2019 is between 74 and 91. This generation was too young to see World War Two, but too old to be a part of the Summer of Love. The idea that following the rules would lead to success was generally accepted amongst this generation.

The Baby Boom Generation:

The Baby Boom generation is born between 1946 and 1964. Their age in 2019 is between 55 and 73.  The term “Baby Boomer” is used because after World War Two there was an economic boom and birth rates increased dramatically in America, though baby booms around the world also occurred during the same period in some western industrialized nations such as Canada, New Zealand, and Iceland, who had higher peak fertility rates than the United States. According to Encyclopedia.com, “936 of 75.8 children per 1,000 women of childbearing age to a high of 122.7 in 1957—and then fell to a new all-time low of 65.0 in 1976”. The baby boom occurred because there was a sharp decline in the number of women choosing to remain childless – not a grow in family size -,  many births were put off until after the Depression and World War Two, and, contrary to the upward trend before the baby boom, younger women chose to stay at home and have and raise children instead of participating in the labor force, which lasted for approximately 20 years. This generation grew up with the civil rights movement, Woodstock, the Vietnam war and rock and roll. As a parenting trend, Baby Boomers generally desired to make life easier for their children due to what they themselves had experienced growing up.

Generation X/Baby Busters:

Generation X is born between 1965 and 1980, making their age in 2019 between 39 and 54. This generation was originally called the “Baby Busters” because birth rates decreased after the Baby Boomer generation. Some economists have suggested that this is partially because, when male income rises, the chance of having children increases due to stability, and when a woman’s income increases, the chance of having more and children in general decreases as she spends more time in the labor market than caring for her children. Economists have provided a third factor; that of the standard of living. As teens, this generation experienced the AIDS epidemic and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Millennial Generation:

Millennials are born between 1981 and 1997. Thus, their age in 2019 is between 22 and 38 years. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S workforce and the fastest-growing generation of customers in the workplace. This generation experienced the rise of the internet, so it was understood what life was like before and after the introduction of the internet.

The Post Millennial Generation/ Generation Z:

Generation Z is born from 1997 onward, placing them as working age adults between 18 and 22 years of age in 2019. It has been said that Generation Z is and will greatly affect present ideas regarding parenting, education, employment, entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, politics, religion, and more. Not much is known about this generation due to how new it is, but it is the first generation that is born with internet.