We’ve been using the terms “Gen-X” and “Millennials” to refer to two different age groups, each with a common statistical characteristic, but there’s been no sole authority that officially defines which birth years belong to which group.
Baby Boomers are the only age group that was specifically defined by the US Census Bureau – they’re individuals born in the United States between mid-1946 and mid-1964.
US-based Pew Research Center recently released new guidelines for identifying the birth years of Gen-X’ers, Millennials and “Post-Millennials.”
In an article posted on their website on March 1, the president of the research center Michael Dimock writes, “Pew Research Center has been studying the Millennial generation for more than a decade. But as we enter 2018, it’s become clear to us that it’s time to determine a cutoff point between Millennials and the next generation. Turning 37 this year, the oldest Millennials are well into adulthood, and they first entered adulthood before today’s youngest adults were born.”
“In order to keep the Millennial generation analytically meaningful, and to begin looking at what might be unique about the next cohort, Pew Research Center will use 1996 as the last birth year for Millennials for our future work. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22-37 in 2018) will be considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward will be part of a new generation. Since the oldest among this rising generation are just turning 21 this year, and most are still in their teens, we think it’s too early to give them a name – though The New York Times asked readers to take a stab – and we look forward to watching as conversations among researchers, the media and the public help a name for this generation take shape. In the meantime, we will simply call them “post-Millennials” until a common nomenclature takes hold,” he explains.
The following is the new structure for defining the different generations the think tank came up with:
- The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (73-90 years old)
- Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)
- Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (38-53 years old)
- Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old)
- Post-Millennials: Born 1997-Present (0-21 years old)
It’s worth pointing out that “Xennials” have been eliminated from the definitions. These are babies who were born between 1977 and 1983 and identified themselves as people who experienced an analogue childhood but adapted to today’s digital technology. If you’re included in this micro-generation, you’re either a junior Gen-X’er or a senior Millennial.
Dimock closes his piece with, “All the while, we’ll keep in mind that generations are a lens through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups.”
To learn more about the political, economic, social and technological factors considered in the center’s extensive study, read the rest of the insightful article here.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, they conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research.