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Natural Awakenings

Name Game: What Do You Want to be Called Today?

Jul 29, 2011 11:54AM

With “Generation Y” becoming a popular nickname for current teens and young adults, it’s helpful to look back at the history of this
trend for some perspective. Generational names are the handiwork of popular culture—some are drawn from a historic event, others from rapid social or demographic change, while others come from a big turn on the calendar.

The Millennial Generation falls into the third category. The label refers to those born after 1980, the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.

Generation X covers people born from1965 through 1980. X-ers are often depicted and described as savvy entrepreneurial owners.

Baby Boomer is drawn from the great spike in births that began in 1946—following the end of World War II the year before—and ended almost as abruptly in1964, around the time the birth control pill first went on the market. It’s a classic example of a demographically driven name.

The Silent Generation describes adults born from 1928 through 1945. Children of the Great Depression and World War II, their “silent” label refers to the conformist and civic instincts that we associate with many of them. (It also makes for a nice contrast with the noisy waves of the anti-establishment boomers.)

The Greatest Generation, those born before 1928, is the generation that fought and won World War II, both overseas and on the home front.

As the zeitgeist changes, labels that once seemed spot-on can fall out of fashion. Generational names are works in progress.

Source: Pew Research Center

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