Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins (2023)

For decades, Pew Research Center has been committed to measuring public attitudes on key issues and documenting differences in those attitudes across demographic groups. One lens often employed by researchers at the Center to understand these differences is that of generation.

Generations provide the opportunity to look at Americans both by their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, a middle-aged parent or a retiree – and by their membership in a cohort of individuals who were born at a similar time.

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.

Pew Research Center has been studying the Millennial generationfor more than a decade.But by 2018, it became clear to us that it was time to determine a cutoff point between Millennials and the next generation. Turning 38 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 decided a year ago to use 1996 as the last birth year for Millennials for our future work. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of a new generation.

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 lookat 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 Dictionarynow 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.

(Video) Generation Comparison (1901-2024)

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.

Unlike the Boomers, there are no comparably definitive thresholds by which later generational boundaries are defined. But for analytical purposes, we believe 1996 is a meaningful cutoff between Millennials and Gen Z for a number of reasons, including key political, economic and social factors that define the Millennial generation’s formative years.

Most Millennials were between the ages of 5 and 20 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the nation, and many were old enough to comprehend the historical significance of that moment, while most members of Gen Z have little or no memory of the event. Millennials also grew up in the shadow of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which sharpened broader views of the parties and contributed to the intense political polarization that shapes the current political environment. And most Millennials were between 12 and 27 during the 2008 election, where the force of the youth vote became part of the political conversation and helped elect the first black president. Added to that is the fact that Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in the nation’s history. Yet the next generation – Generation Z – is even more diverse.

Beyond politics, most Millennials came of age and entered the workforce facing the height of an economic recession. As is well documented, many of Millennials’ life choices, future earnings and entrance to adulthood have been shaped by this recession in a way that may not be the case for their younger counterparts. The long-term effects of this “slow start” for Millennials will be a factor in American society for decades.

Technology, in particular the rapid evolution of how people communicate and interact, is another generation-shaping consideration. Baby Boomers grew up as television expanded dramatically, changing their lifestyles and connection to the world in fundamental ways. Generation X grew up as the computer revolution was taking hold, and Millennials came of age during the internet explosion.

In this progression, what is unique for Generation Z is that all of the above have been part of their lives from the start. The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means by which young Americans connected with the web was through mobile devices, WiFi and high-bandwidth cellular service. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.

(Video) Generations X, Y, and Z: Which One Are You?

The implications of growing up in an “always on” technological environment are only now coming into focus. Recent research has shown dramatic shifts in youth behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles – both positive and concerning – for those who came of age in this era. What we don’t know is whether these are lasting generational imprints or characteristics of adolescence that will become more muted over the course of their adulthood. Beginning to track this new generation over time will be of significant importance.

Pew Research Center is not the first to draw an analytical line between Millennials and the generation to follow them, and many have offered well-reasoned arguments for drawing that line a few years earlier or later than where we have. Perhaps, as more data are collected over the years, a clear, singular delineation will emerge. We remain open to recalibrating if that occurs. But more than likely the historical, technological, behavioral and attitudinal data will show more of a continuum across generations than a threshold. As has been the case in the past, this means that the differences within generations can be just as great as the differences across generations, and the youngest and oldest within a commonly defined cohort may feel more in common with bordering generations than the one to which they are assigned. This is a reminder that generations themselves are inherently diverse and complex groups, not simple caricatures.

In the near term, you will see a number of reports and analyses from the Center that continue to build on our portfolio of generational research. Today, we issued a report looking – for the first time – at how members of Generation Z view some of the key social and political issues facing the nation today and how their views compare with those of older generations. To be sure, the views of this generation are not fully formed and could change considerably as they age and as national and global events intervene. Even so, this early look provides some compelling clues about how Gen Z will help shape the future political landscape.

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing demographic analyses that compare Millennials to previous generations at the same stage in their life cycle to see if the demographic, economic and household dynamics of Millennials continue to stand apart from their predecessors. In addition, we will build on our research on teens’ technology useby exploring the daily lives, aspirations and pressures today’s 13- to 17-year-olds face as they navigate the teenage years.

Yet, we remain cautious about what can be projected onto a generation when they remain so young. Donald Trump may be the first U.S. president most Gen Zers know as they turn 18, and just as the contrast between George W. Bush and Barack Obama shaped the political debate for Millennials, the current political environment may have a similar effect on the attitudes and engagement of Gen Z, though how remains a question. As important as today’s news may seem, it is more than likely that the technologies, debates and events that will shape Generation Z are still yet to be known.

We look forward to spending the next few years studying this generation as it enters adulthood. 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.

(Video) The Fourth Turning: Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z navigating the current Crisis

Note: This is an update of a post that was originally published March 1, 2018, to announce the Center’s adoption of 1996 as an endpoint to births in the Millennial generation.


GenerationsGeneration ZMillennialsBaby BoomersComparison of GenerationsDemographic Research

Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins (4)

Michael Dimock is the president of Pew Research Center.

(Video) Why The Millennial v. Gen Z War Should End


(Video) What do we know about the generation after millennials? | Jason Dorsey | TEDxHouston


When did Millennials end and Gen Z start? ›

Generation Z (or more commonly Gen Z for short), colloquially known as Zoomers, is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years.

What are the 7 living generations? ›

2022 Generation Names Explained
  • The Greatest Generation – born 1901-1924.
  • The Silent Generation – born 1925-1945.
  • The Baby Boomer Generation – born 1946-1964.
  • Generation X – born 1965-1979.
  • Millennials – born 1980-1994.
  • Generation Z – born 1995-2012.
  • Gen Alpha – born 2013 – 2025.

What are the 6 generations in order? ›

The 6 generations in the society at the moment are silent generation, baby boomers, generation x, generation y, generation z, and generation alpha.

What is the transition generation between Millennials and Gen Z? ›

Zillennials (sometimes called Zennials) are the micro-generation of individuals born on the cusp of the Millennial and Generation Z demographic cohorts.

What is the difference between Xennial and Millennials? ›

According to Pew Research, members of Generation X were born between 1965 and 1980 and Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. Xennials, though, were born some time between 1977 and 1983.

When did each generation start and end? ›

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.

Why is the Silent Generation called that? ›

The term “Silent Generation” was first documented in a 1951 Time magazine article, which claimed that the most startling fact about this generation was its silence: “By comparison with the Flaming Youth of their fathers and mothers, today's younger generation is a still, small flame.” The generation's “silent” behavior ...

What are the 8 living generations? ›

  • Defining Generation Names and Dates.
  • The Greatest Generation (GI Generation): Born 1901–1927.
  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928–1945.
  • Baby Boom Generation: Born 1946–1964.
  • Generation X: Born 1965–1980.
  • Millennial Generation or Generation Y: Born 1981–1996.
  • Generation Z or iGen: Born 1997–2010.
  • Generation Alpha: Born After 2000.
Jan 28, 2023

What comes 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.

How many is 10 generations? ›

Ancestral Reference Numbering System

etc., etc. The 10th generation by itself, will contain 512 ancestors. But a 10 generation list of ancestors contains 1,022 because this is the total number of ancestors for the 2nd to the 10th generation inclusive. Ancestors are traditionally recorded on a PEDIGREE CHART.

What comes after Gen Beta? ›

So it follows that Generation Beta will be born from 2025 to 2039. If the nomenclature sticks, then we will afterwards have Generation Gamma (the children of Generation Alpha) and Generation Delta, but we won't be getting there until the second half of the 21st century!

How long are 10 generations? ›

At the usually accepted value of four generations per century, ten generations would place the common ancestor only 250 years in the past, in the mid-18th century, suggesting a further search in records of that period for evidence pointing toward the relationship.

What years are Zillennials? ›

Urban Dictionary considers zillennials a micro-generation constituted of people from 1993-1998 that graduated high school from 2012-2016.

What is the difference between a Millennial and a zoomer? ›

What is Generation Z and the Gen Z age range? Generation Z, sometimes known as “zoomers,” is the demographic cohort that comes after millennials and proceeds Generation Alpha. Members of the Gen Z years were born between 1997 and 2012. So as of 2023, the Gen Z age range is anywhere from 11 to 26.

What are the differences between Generation X Y & Z and Millennials? ›

Generation X is anyone born from 1965 to 1980. Baby boomers are anyone born from 1946 to 1964. Millennials are anyone born from 1981 to 1996. Generation Z is anyone born from 1997 to 2012.

Is Gen Z and Xennials the same? ›

Generation Z was born between 1995 and 2012, whereas Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. In 2019 the oldest Millennials turned 40, which means that they have been part of adult life for a while.

What is a Xennial known for? ›

Xennials were the first people to grow up with computers and have access to the internet, making them “pros” at surfing the web. They also were able to experience the rise of the internet at an age where they could understand what it meant, rather than just being born into a world where it's already prevalent.

Is Xennial an official generation? ›

Though not yet an official term , the “xennial generation” refers to the group of people born between Generation X and the millennial generation. People typically consider the Xennial generation to include individuals who were born between 1977 and 1983, while some argue the generation extends to 1985.

What is the cut off for Millennials? ›

The Brookings Institution defines the millennial generation as people born from 1981 to 1996, as does Gallup, Federal Reserve Board, American Psychological Association, CBS, and ABC Australia.

How are generations defined? ›

A generation refers to all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively. It can also be described as, "the average period, generally considered to be about 20–⁠30 years, during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children."

What is the current generation called? ›

Generation Alpha is the name given to children born in or after 2010. They are the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century and are currently the youngest generation. Gen Alpha parents are often Millennials and younger Gen X.

What is the Greatest Generation? ›

The Greatest Generation refers to those Americans born between 1900 and 1925, many of whom fought during World War II. These individuals grew up during WWI and lived through the Great Depression and are often the parents of the Baby Boomer generation.

What age range are Gen Xers? ›

Generations defined by name, birth year, and ages in 2023
GenerationsBornCurrent Ages
Gen Z1997 – 201211 – 26
Millennials1981 – 199627 – 42
Gen X1965 – 198043 – 58
Boomers II (a/k/a Generation Jones)*1955 – 196459 – 68
3 more rows
Jan 19, 2023

Who decides generation names? ›

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 the most generations of one family alive at the same time? ›

According to Guinness World Records, the most generations alive in a single family has been seven.

What is the 5 generations rule? ›

This is the five-generation rule. “How a parent raises their child — the love they give, the values they teach, the emotional environment they offer, the education they provide — influences not only their children but the four generations to follow, either for good or evil.”

Has there ever been 5 generations alive at the same time? ›

According to Guinness World Records the most generations alive in a single family has been seven. Mrs Fitzgerald said she was "flabbergasted" to become a great-great-great grandmother.

What problems will Gen Alpha face? ›

Less development of creativity and imagination. Without questioning the skills that the Alpha generation will acquire thanks to new technologies, it should be stressed that as the use of physical toys is reduced, the development of imagination and creativity will suffer. Reduced ability to achieve happiness.

What are Millennials kids called? ›

What do we know already about Gen Alpha? HD: Because they're still children, there's only so much we can know at this point about Gen Alpha. But what we do know is that they're inextricably linked to their millennial parents, which is why they're often referred to as “mini millennials” or other similar monikers.

What is after Zoomers? ›

According to McCrindle, everyone born between 2011 and 2025 falls into the Alpha category. Fun fact: by 2025, Generation Alpha is expected to be the wealthiest, most educated and technologically literate generation in history.

How many generations were there from Adam to Jesus? ›

There were 77 generations between Adam and Jesus Christ. The basis of these calculations by Archbishop Ussher were the Book of Chronicles from Adam to Abraham, as well as the Gospel of Saint Matthew from Abraham to Jesus.

How many generations before you are not related? ›

If people in this population meet and breed at random, it turns out that you only need to go back an average of 20 generations before you find an individual who is a common ancestor of everyone in the population.

How far is 50 generations? ›

In other words, our ancestors increase exponentially the further back we look. About 20 generations (about 400 years), ago we each have about a million ancestors - and after that the numbers start to get even sillier. Forty generations ago (800 years) gives us one trillion ancestors, and fifty gives one quadrillion.

What is generation Omega? ›

The apostolic generation of the 21st century is an omega generation. They live at the end of God's purpose and work their way back to their current earthly position. They live at the omega dimension before and during the execution of God's purpose in the natural realm.

Will Gen Z ever own homes? ›

Despite current conditions, Generation Z remains determined to become homeowners, according to a recent Rocket Mortgage® survey. In fact, 71.5% of Gen Zers plan to buy their first home in the next 1-6 years, while 37.2% plan on buying as soon as 1 – 3 years.

What year is generation Delta? ›

A 4-year project (2022-2026) to improve the experiences and outcomes for Black, Asian and minority ethnic female students through key phases of the post graduate research life cycle.

When did Gen Z officially start? ›

Gen Z spans from 1997 to 2012, meaning anyone born within those years belongs to this generation. According to Pew Research, the cutoff represents major political, economic and social events that set Gen Z apart from Millennials.

What years are Millennials after Gen Z? ›

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. So it follows that Generation Beta will be born from 2025 to 2039.

What age is Gen Y? ›

What Is the Gen Y Age Range? Most sources list the age range for the Gen Y demographic cohort between 1981 and 1997, though it can vary. The Pew Research Trust lists the birth date range as being from 1981 to 1996.

When did Gen Alpha start? ›

Generation Alpha includes those born from 2010 onwards and who have therefore grown up in a fully digital world.


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