Deciphering Generation Names, Birth Years and Stereotypes (2024)

Deciphering Generation Names, Birth Years and Stereotypes (1)

From sock hops and bell bottoms to low-rise jeans and TikTok dance challenges, each generation has many characteristics and trends that set it apart from the next.

Somewhere along the line, these eras picked up a bundle of different monikers and start and end dates. These generation names and years can be confusing, but there is a method to the madness. Well, most of the time.


For example, Generation Z — aka Gen-Z, aka Post-Millennials, aka iGeneration — begins in either 1994, 1996 or 1997, depending on who you're talking to. However, '97 is the most widely accepted starting year for Gen Zers.

Read on to learn more about the ways we've come to name and define different generations, from those who were children during World War I to younger generations who never knew life without social media platforms.



  1. Defining Generation Names and Dates
  2. The Greatest Generation (GI Generation): Born 1901 to 1927
  3. The Silent Generation: Born 1928 to 1945
  4. Baby Boomer Generation: Born 1946 to 1964
  5. Generation X: Born 1965 to 1980
  6. Millennial Generation: Born 1981 to 1996
  7. Generation Z or iGen: Born 1997 to 2012
  8. Generation Alpha: Born Between 2013 to 2025

Defining Generation Names and Dates

A generation is usually defined as a group of people born and living around the same time, typically spanning about 15 to 20 years. This grouping is based on shared historical, social and cultural experiences that shape their attitudes, values and behaviors.

These shared experiences forge a collective identity that sets each generation apart. For example, the start of the baby boom generation is often tied to the end of World War II, while millennials are typically marked by the rise of the internet and the new millennium.


These generation labels and dates aren't set in stone and can vary slightly depending on the source, but they generally reflect periods of substantial change that influence each generation's formative years.

Setting Generational Boundaries

One major contributor to defining each generation's boundaries is the Pew Research Center, which conducts extensive research and analysis on demographic, social and economic trends.

They establish generational boundaries based on significant historical events, technological advancements and cultural shifts, providing a framework for understanding how different cohorts experience and influence society.

Researchers, media and policymakers widely use definitions and reports from the Pew Research Center to analyze generational differences and their impacts on various aspects of life.

Now, let's look at each generation and its characteristics.


The Greatest Generation (GI Generation): Born 1901 to 1927

The GI generation is renowned for its resilience and civic duty, shaped by the profound challenges and major historical events of the early 20th century. In one generation, they experienced two world wars and a major economic downturn.

The Greatest Generation came of age during the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and lasted through much of the 1930s. The hardships they faced during this time — such as widespread unemployment and poverty — instilled values of frugality, diligence and perseverance.


Many members of this generation were children during World War I (1914 to 1918), which also influenced their early life experiences. Though too young to participate directly in the First World War, the global impact of the war and its aftermath (including economic instability and societal changes) would have been part of their formative environment.

Their significant involvement in World War II, either on the battlefield or on the home front, further defined their lives, cementing their legacy of resilience and sacrifice.

This generation's experiences of economic and global instability helped shape the mid-20th-century world, laying the foundations for modern societal structures. Their enduring influence is marked by their commitment to duty and ability to thrive despite early adversities.

While resilience is a hallmark, this group is sometimes seen as overly traditional and resistant to change. They have received criticism for clinging to established norms and authority without question and being too skeptical of new technologies and modern innovations.


The Silent Generation: Born 1928 to 1945

The Silent Generation grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, events that significantly shaped their attitudes and behaviors. These early experiences instilled a sense of frugality, hard work and duty, which defined much of their approach to life.

So what's with the "silent" label? Well, this moniker is due to its members' perceived cultural and social traits. A 1951 Time magazine article coined the term, observing the generation's tendency to be more cautious, conformist and less vocal about their political and social views than their predecessors.


Growing up during the Depression and Second World War and coming of age during the early Cold War era, many members of this generation prioritized job security and stability, often shying away from activism and public dissent. They are usually viewed as a stabilizing force during times of change, unlike the boomers that followed, who are viewed as more vocal and rebellious.

Baby Boomer Generation: Born 1946 to 1964

Baby boomers are the demographic group born between 1946 and 1964. They are defined by the post-World War II baby boom. During this period, birth rates skyrocketed because of economic prosperity, returning soldiers eager to start families, supportive government policies, cultural optimism and the expansion of suburban housing.

This generation grew up during a time of widespread economic prosperity and rapid social change, including the Civil Rights Movement, the Sexual Revolution and the Vietnam War. These events shaped boomers into a generation known for challenging and reshaping societal structures.


Professionally, they are often credited with fueling the economic prosperity of the late 20th century. Boomers are known for their strong work ethic, which is usually characterized as work-centric, competitive and goal-oriented. As they entered the workforce, they also gained a reputation for changing the norms of work and retirement, pushing for more flexibility and a focus on work-life balance.

Socially, baby boomers have been described positively and negatively: They are seen as a generation that values individual freedom and responsibility. However, they are frequently accused of prioritizing their own financial security, contributing to housing market inflation and environmental degradation.

Their impact on politics and economics continues to be significant as they age, especially regarding social security systems and healthcare services, given their vast numbers and active involvement in civic duties.

In recent years, many baby boomers have begun to work past the traditional retirement age, either by necessity or choice. This shift impacts societal views on aging and retirement, setting new standards for future generations.


Generation X: Born 1965 to 1980

This generation came of age during shifting societal values and technological advancements, notably the rise of personal computing and the internet.

Growing up during the 1970s and 1980s, Gen Xers witnessed significant political and economic changes, including the end of the Cold War and the 1987 stock market crash (and the implosion of the dot-com bubble as young adults).


Often characterized as "latchkey" kids, many Gen Xers were raised in dual-income or single-parent households. This factor contributed to their reputation for being independent, resourceful and self-reliant. This independence is sometimes seen as cynicism or skepticism, mainly because they experienced several economic downturns and corporate downsizing during their formative years.

In the workplace, Gen Xers are known for valuing a work-life balance, pushing back against the work-centric mentality of their boomer parents. They were among the first to challenge the corporate ladder concept, favoring a more flexible and results-oriented work environment.

Culturally, Gen X has made substantial contributions to music, art and technology. They drove the grunge music movement and the growth of independent film. Gen Xers were also the first generation to grow up with video games and embrace digital technology on a significant scale.

Today, as they move into middle age, Generation Xers are often considered the "middle child" of generations, overshadowed by the larger boomer and millennial generations.


Millennial Generation: Born 1981 to 1996

More rarely referred to as Generation Y, this generation has been shaped by unique circ*mstances, including technological advancements, economic volatility and global connectivity, which have significantly influenced their values, behaviors and lifestyle choices.

Millennials grew up during the rapid expansion of the internet and digital technology, making them highly adept at communicating and processing information through digital platforms. This tech-savvy generation has driven significant changes in how people connect, work and consume media, leading to the rise of social media, the gig economy and streaming entertainment.


Economically, many millennials entered the job market during the Great Recession of the late 2000s, which has had long-lasting effects on their career paths and financial stability. This timing has often led to challenges such as higher levels of student debt and difficulties in achieving traditional milestones like home ownership and marriage.

This generation has faced criticism for being perceived as entitled, overly dependent on technology, lacking work ethic and exhibiting a sense of impatience and craving for instant gratification, often attributed to their upbringing in a rapidly evolving digital age and economic challenges.

Socially and politically, millennials are known for their progressive values. They prioritize issues like climate change, social justice and inclusivity. They are also more likely than previous generations to advocate for government intervention in areas such as health care and environmental regulation.

As millennials mature into key societal roles, their influence continues to grow, reshaping politics, culture and the economy. Their approach to life and work, including a preference for flexible work arrangements and a desire for a meaningful career that aligns with their values, is slowly changing traditional norms.


Generation Z or iGen: Born 1997 to 2012

Generation Z, often called Gen Z, was raised in the era of smartphones and social media, which profoundly influences their communication habits, information consumption and social interactions.

Gen Zers have come of age during significant social, environmental and technological change. These shifts include global challenges such as economic inequality and political polarization, which have shaped the climate change worldview to be pragmatic and inclusive yet cautious about the future.


In terms of technology, they fully embrace the digital age and seamlessly integrate digital tools into their daily lives for education, entertainment and socializing.

Educationally and economically, Gen Z faces unique challenges, including the high costs of education and the uncertainties of job markets influenced by automation and the gig economy. These factors drive many in Gen Z to value practical skills and job security, pushing them toward entrepreneurship and side hustles as ways to achieve financial stability.

Socially and politically, Gen Z is characterized by a strong sense of justice and a commitment to advocacy. They often use digital platforms to mobilize around issues such as climate change, mental health and inclusivity. Their activism is frequently aimed at effecting change at both the grassroots and global levels, illustrating their commitment to positively impacting the world.

Gen Zers are often criticized for being overly reliant on technology, having short attention spans, displaying entitlement and impatience, being overly sensitive in their focus on social justice and lacking the strong work ethic of previous generations.


Generation Alpha: Born Between 2013 to 2025

Gen Alpha is the first generation born entirely in the 21st century, and its upbringing is deeply intertwined with technology. From a very young age, Gen A has been exposed to smartphones, tablets and AI-driven technologies, making it the most technologically immersed generation from the outset.

There is speculation that the digital natives' overdependence on digital devices could reduce face-to-face social skills and attention spans.


The parenting and education of Generation Alpha are significantly influenced by the experiences of millennials, who are their primary parents. This generational connection emphasizes values like inclusivity, environmental awareness and the use of technology for socializing and learning.

With the pervasive presence of advanced technology, Gen Alpha children are likely to experience personalized learning environments and digital play as integral components of their development.

Socially and culturally, Generation Alpha is growing up in a world of global connectivity and diverse communities. Issues like climate change, sustainability and social justice are expected to be central themes in their educational and developmental narratives.

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has marked a significant part of their early years, likely impacting their schooling, social interactions and family dynamics in profound ways.

Gen Alpha is anticipated to blend digital and physical experiences further as they mature, leveraging technology in innovative ways that will shape their work, entertainment and social relations. Their potential influence on future cultural, technological and environmental advancements is vast, as they will continue to build on the digital foundation laid by older generations.

We created this article in conjunction with AI technology, then made sure it was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.


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Deciphering Generation Names, Birth Years and Stereotypes (2024)


Deciphering Generation Names, Birth Years and Stereotypes? ›

The Greatest Generation members lived through the Great Depression and many of them fought in World War II. These individuals have often been described as driven, patriotic, and team players. The Greatest Generation members also tend to be the parents of the Baby Boomer generation.

What are examples of generational stereotypes? ›

Generation stereotypes
Traditionalists (1925 to 1945)Baby boomers (1946 to 1960)Millennials (1981 to present)
• Patient, loyal and hardworking• Teamwork and cooperation• Meaningful work
• Respectful of authority• Ambitious• Diversity and change valued
• Rule followers• Workaholic• Technology savvy
2 more rows
Jun 1, 2005

What are the generation names and meanings? ›

5. What are the primary generations today?
  • Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born approximately 1996 – 2015.
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born approximately 1977 – 1995.
  • Generation X: Born approximately 1965 – 1976.
  • Baby Boomers: Born approximately 1946 – 1964.
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born approximately 1945 and before.

What are the stereotypes of the greatest generation? ›

The Greatest Generation members lived through the Great Depression and many of them fought in World War II. These individuals have often been described as driven, patriotic, and team players. The Greatest Generation members also tend to be the parents of the Baby Boomer generation.

Why is Gen Z called Gen Z? ›

Gen Z is thought to have gotten its name because it came after Gen X and Millennials, a generation some tried to label as Gen Y. McCrindle and his associates conducted a survey to see what the generation after Gen Z (generally born from 1995 to 2009) should be called.

Why are Millennials called Millennials? ›

Also known as Generation Y, Millennials are a demographic cohort, or age group, that falls between Gen X and Gen Z. They're called Millennials because the oldest members of this generation became adults at the turn of the millennium.

What are stereotypes for Millennials? ›

Common stereotypes associated with millennials, roughly defined as the generation born since 1980, are well documented and mostly negative. Millennials are presumed to be lazy, entitled, delusional, narcissistic and unreliable.

What is a stereotype of Baby Boomers? ›

Most common stereotypes for each generation

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): Baby Boomers are known as the "workaholic" generation, famous for their strong work ethic, career dedication, and pursuit of personal and professional growth.

Why are Gen Z and Millennials so different? ›

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 while members of the Gen Z years Gen Z years were born between 1997 and 2012. Millennials expect faster customer service. Gen Z tends to be better at accepting delayed gratification than millennials. Millennial customer service expectations are higher than Gen Z customers.

How are generation names determined? ›

No official commission or group decides what each generation is called and when it starts and ends. Instead, different names and birth year cutoffs are proposed, and through a somewhat haphazard process a consensus slowly develops in the media and popular parlance.

What is Gen Z known for? ›

As the first social generation to have grown up with access to the Internet and portable digital technology from a young age, members of Generation Z, even if not necessarily digitally literate, have been dubbed "digital natives".

What is the generation chart? ›

Generations defined by name, birth year, and ages in 2024
GenerationsBornCurrent Ages
Gen Z1997 – 201212 – 27
Millennials1981 – 199628 – 43
Gen X1965 – 198044 – 59
Boomers II (a/k/a Generation Jones)*1955 – 196460 – 69
3 more rows
May 13, 2024

What does Gen Z do that Millennials don't? ›

Gen Z are selective with university choices (to avoid being lumped with student debt - millennial-style) and entrepreneurial from a young age (to avoid living at home into their twenties like many of their millennial counterparts).

What is the best generation to be born in? ›

The Greatest generation, those born 1901 to 1927, are known to have been born and come of age in the “American Century” of economic growth, technological progress, and mostly military triumph. The Silent generation describes adults born from 1928 through 1945.

What is the stereotype of Gen Alpha? ›

Generation Alpha is characterised by being digital natives and spending hours and hours in front of screens.

Why do they call it the silent generation? ›

The Silent generation describes adults born from 1928 through 1945. Children of the Great Depression and World War II, their “Silent” label refers to their conformist and civic instincts. It also makes for a nice contrast with the noisy ways of the anti-establishment Boomers.

Are Gen Y and Millennials the same? ›

Is Gen Y the Same as Millennials? Yes. Gen Y is the same as Millennials. The two terms can be used interchangeably to describe people born between the 1980s and late 1990s, though this can change depending on location.

What is the difference between Gen Z and Gen Alpha? ›

As society progresses into the 21st century, attention is shifting from Generation Z—individuals born roughly between 1997 and 2012—to Generation Alpha, the group starting from 2010 onward. These generations are distinct, each shaped by the technological, societal, and global contexts of their upbringing.

What is after gen alpha? ›

That is why the generations today each span 15 years with Generation Y (Millennials) born from 1980 to 1994; Generation Z from 1995 to 2009 and Generation Alpha from 2010 to 2024. And so it follows that Generation Beta will be born from 2025 to 2039.

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