What's a Millennialor

What's a Millennialor

What's a Millennial

The term “millennial”, colloquially, is often used to describe the generation who were born between 1982-2002. Millennials are often characterized as hard-working and technology-savvy, but do they really stand for anything more than just being old enough to take advantage of today’s technological innovations?


As we’ve examined in past work, generational cohorts give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time. They can provide a way to understand how different formative experiences (such as world events and technological, economic and social shifts) interact with the life-cycle and aging process to shape people’s views of the world. While younger and older adults may differ in their views at a given moment, generational cohorts allow researchers to examine how today’s older adults felt about a given issue when they themselves were young, as well as to describe how the trajectory of views might differ across generations. Since the oldest among this rising generation are just turning 22 this year, and most are still in their teens or younger, we hesitated at first to give them a name – Generation Z, the iGeneration and Homelanders were some early candidates. (In our first in-depth look at this generation, we used the term “post-Millennials” as a placeholder.) But over the past year, Gen Z has taken hold in popular culture and journalism. Sources ranging from Merriam-Webster and Oxford to the Urban Dictionary now include this name for the generation that follows Millennials, and Google Trends data show that “Generation Z” is far outpacing other names in people’s searches for information. While there is no scientific process for deciding when a name has stuck, the momentum is clearly behind Gen Z.

Generational cutoff points aren’t an exact science. They should be viewed primarily as tools, allowing for the kinds of analyses detailed above. But their boundaries are not arbitrary. Generations are often considered by their span, but again there is no agreed upon formula for how long that span should be. At 16 years (1981 to 1996), our working definition of Millennials is equivalent in age span to their preceding generation, Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980). By this definition, both are shorter than the span of the Baby Boomers (19 years) – the only generation officially designated by the U.S. Census Bureau, based on the famous surge in post-WWII births in 1946 and a significant decline in birthrates after 1964. (Source: www.pewresearch.org)


Related Articles