Age range for different generations?
January 7, 2005 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Generational filter: I am trying to apply an age/birth year range to the following generations: Boomers, GenX, GenY, Nexter. I find conflicting information when I google. [mi]

Sources tell me I belong to more than one group, and that my mother is well into the Boomer category when I know she barely made it in. I am curious to know if some of these group titles are interchangeable as well (GenX and Nexter, perhaps?).
posted by suchatreat to Society & Culture (44 answers total)
I've never heard of Nexters before. This article says that they're the same as Gen Y. The article also has year designations for the generations that are fairly consistent with what I've heard, give or take 2 or 3 years. I think the generations are fuzzy at the borders.
posted by dness2 at 8:38 PM on January 7, 2005

Well, if you must....

Some endpoints: It's 2005 now.
Baby Boomers are always born after 1945
People born in 1968 are somewhere in the early part of Gen X.

My mother was born in 1935. What "generation" is that?
posted by crunchburger at 8:41 PM on January 7, 2005

That's one of the articles I found via google. Those Boomer years are way off, aren't they?
posted by suchatreat at 8:43 PM on January 7, 2005

I've always heard Gen X as 1961-1979 or so.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:48 PM on January 7, 2005

The population boom fell off after 1964, so the Baby Boom generation would be Americans born 1946-64, and Generation X would be 1965-77. The jury's still out on what to call the Americans who have never known a world without MTV. So Says I.

Links: Google answers and vintage WIRED.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:56 PM on January 7, 2005

Wikipedia has a Category on Generations.

It defines Generation X as consisting "...of persons born in the 1960s and 1970s," and at the bottom puts the year range at "1965–1981". The other "generations" you were looking for are on there too.

..And, since it's Wikipedia, and the exact years are a matter of debate, feel free to edit the page and bump it forward or backwards a couple of years so you fit in the generation you want to fit it. =D

Just kidding. Putting intentionally false information in Wikipedia is no less evil than kicking puppies. Don't do it.
posted by Laen at 8:59 PM on January 7, 2005

Strange I've heard that genX'ers started in 1963 and baby boomers were after the war 1946-48'ish. says early 60's to late 70's for genX'ers. Webster's New World Dictionary definition of Generation X: "the generation of persons born between 1963 and 1977."
posted by squeak at 8:59 PM on January 7, 2005

Here's the way I've heard it:

The Silent Generation/The Greatest Generation - Lived through the depression and WWII - 1920
Baby Boomers - Children of the Silent Generation (typically born right after WWII, when there was a baby boom, and hence the name) - 1945
Generation X - Children of the Baby Boomers - 1970
Generation Y - Children of Generation X - 1995

Years are approximate and provide a generational range that suits your taste.
posted by forforf at 9:02 PM on January 7, 2005

Tom Tomorrow ran the tagline for my generation some years back (I can't find the cartoon, although I've been searching the archive) - anyway, he said, "I thought I was generation X, but the demographic stays the same, while I keep aging." I was born in 1963 and I don't consider myself a baby boomer: I seem to have missed out on the love and the hippies and the good drugs and all - so I have always thought of myself as generation X.

Anyway, I'm not coming up with a good answer to your question, although it's a question I think about a lot myself. I have thought, baby boomers 1940 - 1960, Gen X 1960 - 1980, and so on, but there's inevitably some overlap.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:12 PM on January 7, 2005

Thanks for the wikipedia links, Laen. Guess I should listen to yerfatma when he won't shut up about how cool it is.
posted by suchatreat at 9:21 PM on January 7, 2005

No kid born in the 80's is part of Gen X. It's just not possible -- too much missed culture. And I've never seen Generation Y defined as "children of Generation X" -- it's more been "the next batch of ruffians." But then, these sorts of labels are bound to have widely different definitions and spans.

My guesstimate:
Baby Boomers: 1940-1950
Gen X: 1965-1975
Gen Y: 1980-1990
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:21 PM on January 7, 2005

Note that labels like these are urban epitaphs, meaningless to the majority of the country. I'm speaking of those by which a decade's culture is lost on them, as time moves at a similar pace as those before. Those of the South. Of the Midwest. Of those unconcerned of charity and temporal significance. Not everyone fucked hippies in the 60s or lost the 8 ball in the 80s. But we all love just the same.
posted by orange clock at 9:26 PM on January 7, 2005

I've noticed the slide in who falls into Generation X from those it originally applied to - which I felt included myself, born in 1961, the same year as Douglas Coupland - to people ten or more years younger, the children of those who want you to know they discovered peace and love at Woodstock.

Generation X, I thought, was meant to define those whose arrival at the tail end of the baby boom meant inconsequence and constrained opportunities due to being demographically overwhelmed by those who preceded them. The status of that group of people, and the appropriateness of the original definition, seemed to be reinforced by the quick and unquestioned loss of the label to the media heroes that surround them, to the treasured children of the self-mythologizing 60's generation.
posted by TimTypeZed at 9:45 PM on January 7, 2005

'Generation X' is used colloquially a lot to mean, y'know, 'the hep young folks' or similar, which may have given you the impression that Gen X and Nexter are interchangeable, and was probably what Tom Tomorrow (an Xer if ever there was one) was referring to. That said, 'Nexter' is a new one on me.

I'm no demographer, though I am fairly interested in this topic. Just to join in:
Boomers: c. 1945-c. 1960
Generation X: c. 1965-c. 1975
Generation Y: c. 1975-c. 1985
posted by box at 9:46 PM on January 7, 2005

I'm sure not everybody in the city did either, orange clock.

May I add: 1900 -- The Lost Generation.
posted by muckster at 9:52 PM on January 7, 2005

Howe and Strauss are the experts I recognize on this topic.

However, for shorthand memory, I use this:

Old enough to fight in World War II (my parents): The GIs
Old enough to fight in Korea (my in-laws): The Silents
Old enough to fight in Vietnam (my siblings): The Boomers
Old enough to fight in the first Gulf War (my peers): Gen X
Old enough to fight in Iraq (my nieces/nephews): Millenials/Gen Y

Of course, those are flexible barriers--it's possible to have fought in WW II AND Korea (AND Vietnam, for some), and there are plenty of Gen Xers in Iraq, but I find it works well as a quickie memory jogger.
posted by GaelFC at 9:55 PM on January 7, 2005

There absolutely is a gap between Gen X and Gen Y. I'm in it (1977). We all learned to write code because there was nothing else to placate us.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:08 PM on January 7, 2005

On the other hand. Do we feel like we belong to the 'generation' label that has been thrust on us? I was born in 1968 so that makes me a Gen X'er. That must mean that I like grunge music and Seinfeld?

Do we belong to our label or does our label belong to us?
posted by Kilovolt at 10:52 PM on January 7, 2005

One way that I think is more memorable is to talk about not when you were born but when you were a teenager, which is clearly more influential, especially when we're talking about shared cultural experience. I always assumed Gen Xers were the folks who were teenagers in the 80s or very early 90s (cutting off, say, at the release of Nevermind). The Baby Boomers were teenagers in the 60s and 70s.
posted by rustcellar at 11:13 PM on January 7, 2005

Guess I should listen to yerfatma when he won't shut up about how cool it is.

Now you finally talking some sense girl.
posted by yerfatma at 11:35 PM on January 7, 2005

If you don't remember the '90's then you weren't there.
posted by Kilovolt at 1:04 AM on January 8, 2005

Douglas Coupland said Generation X consisted of those born between 1959-1964: a "silent" generation that came after the Boomers and before the start of the Vietnam War. The book came out in 1991 and defined people that were late-twentysomething and early-thirtysomething at that time. The main character in the book is 30 - same age as the author was - and his two friends just a bit younger.

Most had it wrong from the get-go, because I remember they applied"Gen X" to all and only twentysomethings back then, and in the more than decade since they've never seemed to track it along with them as they aged. (I read the book when it came out and I've always been ticked that people attribute the label to my generation when really Gen X is my mother.) The "Gen Y" label popped up shortly afterwards and was used to denote teenagers in the mid '90s.

I would say the generation labels go like this:

Baby Boomers - born between 1946 (post-WWII) to late '50s
Generation X - born between 1959-1964
Baby Bust - born between late '60s-early '70s (current thirtysomethings)
Generation Y - born between late '70s-early '80s (current twentysomethings)
Generation Next - born between late '80s-early '90s (current teenagers)
posted by Melinika at 1:10 AM on January 8, 2005

In their book Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe subdivided "Thirteeners" (Generation X) into two groups - Atari (1961-71) and Nintendo (1972- 1981), which seems useful and accurate to me (born 1966.)
posted by enrevanche at 1:29 AM on January 8, 2005

I was born in 1968 so that makes me a Gen X'er. That must mean that I like grunge music and Seinfeld?


The other day, a 25 yr old guy in my dept identified himself as gen X & asked if I was too old to be part of that demographic... I always thought that if anything I was on the tail end of it (I was born in 1973). So I think that there's definitely a tendency to extend the demographic. I guess it hasn't really felt like a massive cultural shift away from the meta-irony saturated, indie everything, cynical, post-modern (etc) teen culture yet. Being a hippie vs. being a slacker/hipster...

What was an undergroundish movement in the 80s became mainstream in the 90s and is now practically classic (the cure on kodak commercials; the simpsons completely blended into the american background - when it came out, it was almost revolutionary, esp. if you grew up reading Life In Hell...). So until a new turn happens, people just keep thinking they're generation X because the culture is basically "gen X" now.
posted by mdn at 7:10 AM on January 8, 2005

Feeling confused at the two people who want to define Gen X as going as far as 1981, as it puts me in a generation with the people who were around 30 when I was 10. And if there is a generation that could be described by Nintendo, it's pretty solidly Gen Y (born in the 80's), not any part of Gen X. Also, being born in 1981, I'm towards the beginning o the "shadow boom" of baby boomers having children, which you could clearly see in the class numbers at my high school.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:24 AM on January 8, 2005

oh, and my layout has been something like -
boomers: 1945-1962
gen x: 1962-1978
(unnamed; possibilities include gen y, millenial gen):1978-1995

atari (1961-71) and Nintendo (1972- 1981),

atari cuts off at 1971? I remember atari better than nintendo. By the time nintendo was big, I wasn't much interested in video games anymore... Actually, the video game I remember best was on a kaypro :)

re: putting nearly 20 years of people in the same "generation", I think it's got some usefulness... there's the sort of precursor movement, rumblings underfoot, then the buildup, and then the break into mainstream. If you take something like goth/punk, it started as a few freaks and became completely normalized over the space of a bit less than 20 years. People born in the late 60s who were part of that were definitely in a 'scene'. Those of us born in the early seventies who were into it were kinda part of an alternative crowd, but a crowd that made its way into most american high schools. Anyone born in the late seventies or later thinks of docs as just another kind of shoe, not some rebellious statement.
posted by mdn at 8:33 AM on January 8, 2005

as it puts me in a generation with the people who were around 30 when I was 10.

Sums up my problem with these generation labels pretty well.
posted by goatdog at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2005

I was born in 1957 and I definitely DO NOT consider myself a Boomer. I've heard the term "Tweener" used, but I find that doesn't work for me. Another one I saw was "Generation Jones", but that was a non-starter as well. Anyone care to offer a good name?
posted by tommasz at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2005

I love the use of video game consoles as generational signifiers, and am pleased that someone else has come up with the idea. I know that my childhood is most solidly defined by the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. For people only a few years younger, it would be the SNES or Genesis, and we're starting to see the PlayStation generation gain autonomy.

I fear for the future.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:02 AM on January 8, 2005

I'm 19, born in 1985, and a son of two Boomers. Does this make me Gen X, due to lineage, or Gen Y, due to chronology? For what it's worth, most of my peers and I considered ourselves members of Generation X, and never gave much thought to the 20-30 years between our parents' birth and ours.
posted by SemiSophos at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2005

Children of the Eighties.
posted by euphorb at 9:55 AM on January 8, 2005

This is a toughie, especially for kids in my age range (late seventies and early eighties)--we aren't Gen X exactly but we aren't what is commonly referred to as Gen Y either. We graduated from high school before Columbine, didn't watch TRL, went to college after widespread email but before widespread cell phones, and remember the grunge years. I actually have a long-running argument with a friend of mine born in 1963, about how to split up our generations.

That said, seems like Melinika has the best breakdown:

Baby Boomers - born between 1946 (post-WWII) to late '50s
Generation X - born between 1959-1964
Baby Bust - born between late '60s-early '70s (current thirtysomethings)
Generation Y - born between late '70s-early '80s (current twentysomethings)
Generation Next - born between late '80s-early '90s (current teenagers)
posted by dame at 10:25 AM on January 8, 2005

I have the same issue as dame - I wouldn't ever self-identify as Gen-Y. I'm the child of Baby Boomers (born ten years into thier marriage, both of them from parents who fought in WWII). Most of what I've heard puts Gen X with the Baby Boomers' kids (some of whom waited to have kids, hence the spread), hence why I would say I'm a Gen-X. Oh, and I knew the world without MTV. My parents wouldn't pay for cable. I didn't miss it. :)
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:04 AM on January 8, 2005

Since Coupland wrote the book and introduced the label to begin with, I'll take him as the voice of authority as to who belongs in Generation X. (And tommasz is right, I haven't met a self-identified Boomer that was born past '55 or '56, so there is a gap there, but I don't know that those in the gap would self-identify as leaning toward Gen X either. I have never heard of a term for them.)

Baby Boom peaked around 1950 (lots of kids being born) and Baby Bust hit around 1970 (a trend of less kids being born, due to birth control/women's lib movement meaning women were marrying later, and so on).

I personally hate the term Gen Y (or Gen Why?) but it *is* what my generation was called when the term first surfaced. If "twentysomethings" were Gen X, then the current crop of teenagers was Gen Y! How clever! =P I think it was applied to us because the grunge movement had just passed, and so we were the "growing up into the slacker example" kids, since grunge peaked during our middle/high school years.

I've heard Gen Next also called "Gen Y Not?" (*retch*), meant to denote a more carefree teenage existence. They have cell phones and pop stars and fluff and fashion, all of which became popular after we grew up.
posted by Melinika at 12:42 PM on January 8, 2005

Oh, and I knew the world without MTV. My parents wouldn't pay for cable. I didn't miss it. :)

There's a difference between a world where you don't have direct access to something, and a world where that thing is not even an idea yet. Cable TV and especially MTV changed what television was... we didn't ever have mtv in my house, but I was still aware of how "big" it was when it came out.

I think what rustcellar said about the release of Nevermind is true, too (which is right around the time the Simpsons came out, too). If you were just entering high school or younger when "alternative" hit the big time, then the teenage years were really pretty different than they were the decade before. So that would mean you'd have to be 16+ in 1991, which means I'd put the end of gen x closer to 1975, which would make me near the end of it, which was always my impression anyway.

Is columbine a real cultural marker for the Millenial/Y generation? Interersting; I don't think I would have thought of that. College without email seems important though - that also goes with the demographic above since email wasn't really mainstream until maybe 1995-6?
posted by mdn at 1:18 PM on January 8, 2005

Columbine is huge. I don't know anyone who left High School before Columbine who isn't aware of that fact, and then in turn aware of how that changed kids' school experiences. In talking about the past, it's not at all uncommon to hear someone say, "I'm really glad I was out of school before Columbine." At least, it's common for me.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:58 PM on January 8, 2005

To echo Medieval Maven, yes yes yes. (We're quite a tag team today.) Before Columbine, being a weirdo just made you a weirdo. After, it made you dangerous. In middle school, I wrote a story about a girl who kills her teacher & classmates after I got in trouble for something I thought wasn't my fault. That got me a trip to the counselor for an exchange that went:

Me: Explains what happens.
Counselor: So, you got angry, wrote a story, and then felt better?
Me: Uh-huh.
Counselor: That sounds perfectly healthy to me. Go back to class.

Care to guess how that must go now? Lots of people I know bring up stories like that when we consider what schools must be like now. Also, now I think about it, pre-Columbine means pre–high stakes testing. I think we were the last kids to consider testing day "fun time."
posted by dame at 2:32 PM on January 8, 2005

More things that separate 77-81 from the beyond in either direction: we remember when "the Russians" were still bad; we had adulthood modeled by "the slackers" and remember the early-nineties recession well enough that we never expected adulthood to reward us with well-paying jobs; few of us had a real shot at the dot-com wealth (we were still in school or out long enough to spend a year or two at one before everything went kablooey).

Interstingly, I think the last two have a big effect on the way hipsters are. Unlike the whole "slacker" thing, when muted ambition and finding satisfaction outside of the workplace were "news" or a statement--when being screwed out of imagined riches was a thing--for hipsters, it was expected. Really, "Reality Bites" was how I imagined post-college going. Since we expected it, there has been a lot less seething and a lot more, well, lets have fun with this.

posted by dame at 2:45 PM on January 8, 2005

Right... I guess a movie like "Heathers" could never have been made post-columbine. I guess I was already years out of college when it happened so I didn't really connect it with my high school experience directly. wHich is just supports dame's contention that there's a some kind of tween/mini-generation (b. 1975-80 or so) that doesn't quite fit either demographic.
posted by mdn at 3:29 PM on January 8, 2005

Generation Jones is sometimes used among demographers and marketers to describe the the group between boomers and GenX, those born 1954 to1965.
posted by roboto at 3:58 PM on January 8, 2005

tommasz: "I was born in 1957 and I definitely DO NOT consider myself a Boomer." [snip for space] "Anyone care to offer a good name?"

I'm three years younger than you. I'll offer: Generation ?! -- Confused, but really excited

I've heard "Notch" used also. I find these so limiting. I agree with someone earlier who mentioned looking at similar teen experiences. I'd expand that to early college experiences. I remember the students just behind me in college who wanted a degree for gods sake! They were going to college to get a high paying job. I longed for the years past when my sister went to college for one reason -- to protest. I felt caught between those two groups.
posted by ?! at 4:51 PM on January 8, 2005

Columbine is a huge generation-definer. It (and the responses especially) made it impossible to make any pretenses about high school being a place for anyone who didn't fit the jock/cheerleader model, even if they were talented at things which are traditionally called "book smarts".

The responses to Columbine basically showed how out-of-touch the country was with its youth, which is why people could get away with saying the culprit was video games and Marilyn Manson. The people who said the culprit was "bullying" were the closest, but it's not quite that simple as responding to violence with violence, it's reacting in a suicidally violent way because you're really literally trapped in this seriously perverted culture which has gotten away with abusing you --- and adults have no way of connecting with this because the knowledge of a world outside is something that has to be experienced to be known.
posted by dagnyscott at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2005

The edges of generations are fluid. I see no point in worrying over exact years. Those born at the edges will identify themselves on one side or the other depending on context (location, family situation, temperament, etc.), really.

It's obvious that someone born in 1972 is a classic 13er (or Gen Xer, if you like). But someone born in 1962 might identify either way (I've known plenty on either side) as might someone born in 1980.

Having said that, here's how I would define it, based on the people I know:

Boomers 1943-1960 (I start in '43 because they went to college in the 60s and were among the earliest in the Vietnam War. The people I know born in '43-'44 are very Boomerish. that said, the first-wave Boomers differ somewhat from the late-wave Boomers.)

13/GenX 1961-1979 (Too young to go to Vietnam, too young to really get into the whole Seventies sexual revolution before AIDS appeared, old enough to have gotten out of high school before Columbine)

Millennials 1980-2001 (not "Gen Y" -- As an Xer, I don't like being called a "Baby Buster"; I don't want to be defined in relation to an older generation. So I extend the same courtesy to the Millennials. 2001 is the dividing line here for somewhat obvious reasons, I think.)

??? 2002-?? (It's really too early to know much about this generation. If you believe Strauss and Howe, they'll be the Silent Generation of the future, while the Millennials are the GIs, another Greatest Generation. Who knows?)

I think those in each generation share certain basic similarities, but that each generation can also be divided into two parts such as the so-called Atari/Nintendo split in Gen X. But don't get hung up on labels. Quibbling over things like "but I was old enough to play with Atari! My brother had one and I played it all the time!" is missing the point, I think.

Oh a quick note about Columbine -- I graduated from high school in 1983, so I'm an Xer. And when I was in high school, we played a game called KAOS -- Killing As Organized Sport. We used squirt guns to "kill" assigned targets in school, and eventually everyone would be "dead" except for two assassins who were hunting each other. I ran several rounds of this game over two school years. Imagine if a high school student did this today. No one cared that much if Xers did it. Remember that there was a high school shooting in 1979 or 1980, too -- Brenda Spencer in San Diego, the girl who was the subject of the song "I Don't Like Mondays."
posted by litlnemo at 2:23 AM on January 10, 2005

litlnemo, sounds like Assassins, which we (Millennials) play in college all the time. Maybe the current high school regime wouldn't approve of it, but that probably varies a lot.
posted by rustcellar at 8:57 AM on January 13, 2005

« Older I'd appreciate advice on being treated for chronic...   |   What are the secrets to finding a great vacation... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.