Monday, August 3, 2009

More proof that Generation X should start in 1958

Typically, we say Generation X starts in 1965, because the Baby boom supposedly ended in 1964. However, I argue that since 1958 was the first year in an 11-year decline in birth rates in the U.S., then those born 1958-1964 are really more X than Boomer. (I could go on and on and on and on to the similarities, but it's still rather early here in Michigan).

Today I saw this video on and I thought, is Craig Ferguson an Xer? The answer: Well, kind of. He was born in 1962. So enjoy the video. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on when Xers started gracing this Earth - and why you picked that year.


Anonymous said...

I suppose it depends on whether or not you believe in the so-called Generation Jones, a smaller anomaly of a generation sandwiched between Boomers and Xers. There are some who insist that this is a legit designation, but I don't recognize it. Besides, those that do accept it usually do so based only birth year ranges, which is not the only thing that defines a generation.

Patricia G said...

More "proof" that GenX starts in '58?! Where is the original "proof"? And what in this post even remotely constitutes such "proof"? Virtually no generation experts still buy into the idea that the Baby Boom Generation should be based on birth rates, since no generation before or since has in any way been defined by birth rates. Generations are about mutual formative experiences, not birth rates.

Of course, those born in 1958 are not part of the Boomer Generation. But that doesn't make them part of Generation X! I'm not aware of any expert who says '58ers are GenXers. But I am aware of a long list of experts who say that '58ers are part of Generation Jones. Of course there is a Generation Jones, which is why so many experts, pundits, commentators and pollsters advocate the existence of GenJones.

GenXpert said...

@Junkdrawer - I don't really believe in "Generation Jones" - 6 years does not a generation make. When you look at the typical Boomer definition of 1946-1964, that's on birth rates. I believe that the so-called Generation Jones have pretty much the same generational characteristics of Xers (whether they want to be called that or not).

@Patricia - I'm not really sure where to start with this. How about, I know at least one expert who believes that Generation Jones are pretty much the same as Xers - me. You can argue that I'm not an expert, but I've fooled quite a few organizations across the U.S. and Canada to fly me out to present on this topic.

I completely disagree that no experts still define the Baby boom as 1946-1964 - pretty much all the Boomer experts do. We all agree that our formative cohort experiences impact our adult behavior - but I haven't met a leading edge Boomer yet who will give up the trailing edge Boomers.

Now, that being said, since we're talking about FORMATIVE COHORT EXPERIENCES, 1958 is the first year in the DECLINE in birthrates. Things that make Gen Jones more X than Boomer include this:
1) First to grow up in predominantly white color households (1956 was the first year US white color households outnumbered blue color).
2)Like Gen X, they never really had a childhood memory when the country was going in the "right" direction: Kindergartners of the JFK assassination, Six-graders of the Kent State shootings, High-schoolers of Watergate, College students of the Iran hostage standoff.
3)First generation to be diagnosed with A.D.D.

I can go on-and-on on this topic, but I'm getting bored here.

Greengerg said...

I'm 1965, but over the years, a large percentage of my friends, lovers, bandmates, etc. have been in the 1960-64 range, and there is absolutely no way those people are boomers. In my view, if you're too young to have at least *wanted* to go to Woodstock, you're not a Boomer. If you're not old enough to have served in Vietnam, I can't see you as a Boomer. I guess in my personal cultural touchstones, Boomers are just older than these folks. Boomers were no longer young children when the Brady Bunch was originally aired in 1970. Boomers were adults when Star Wars and Kiss hit in 1976-77, not adolescents. Boomers were too old to own a Pet Rock, but old enough to dance at Studio 54 when disco was big, etc. etc etc...

J- said...

I think part of the problem with this lies not in where Gen X begins, but where the Baby Boomers should really begin. Follow me on this:

The reason for the "baby boom" in the first place was randy G.I.s returning from Europe and Asia ready to get their freak on after many years of fighting. Now, it's a fairly common myth that the soldiers, sailors and Marines all just showed back up to the states in 1946, when in fact, many were rotated out and didn't serve all 4+ years of the Second World War. That said, the Baby Boomer generation should really start around 1943, and not 1946.

If a generation is 18 years, a generation from 1943-1960, counting the beginning year is 18 years. People born in 1943 have much more in common with people born in 1958, than those born in 1961.

I'll agree that the birth rate spiked beginning in 1946, but the first peoples with the Boomeresque traits began showing up in 1943.

Unknown said...

I must be missing something. It seems pretty hilarious that anyone cares what generation label people wear. I realize marketers love this stuff, but personally, I'm more interested in who you are than what year you were born in.

Jennifer Chronicles ( said...

I feel like I've read every argument out there regarding when Gen X starts and stops. For the purpose of my blog, I just go with the broadest definition possible - 61-81. That way I'm inclusive of anyone who self-identifies as Gen X. I know some Xers that are very Boomer-esque.

I do feel an affinity for Gen Jones and their plight. My argument against their group identification is that Gen X is so small already, we can afford for them to secede from the union. Ha!

Jennifer Chronicles ( said...

can't afford....duh.

Connie said...

My problem with the Generation Jones label is that I observe a very strong correlation between how much a person advocates its existence and how much that person stands to gain from its existence.

Seems to me that there will always be a gray area between the generations - whether that's Generation A/B or Y/Z. You're never going to be able to draw a line in the sand and get everybody to agree that if you're born before midnight on this date you're gen Y and if you're born after you're gen Z.

All that to say I get what you're saying about people born in the early 60's exhibiting X'ish tendencies. How about we tag the "cool" ones as X'ers and let the Boomers and Jones'ers have the uncool ones.

Anonymous said...

Birth rates alone do not a generation make. But 1958 is definitely Boomer. Strauss and Howe set baby boom from 1961 - 1981
and Boomer from 1943 - 1960. I simply say if you were a Vietnam war baby, were a kid when Star Wars premiered, a teen when MTV came out and grew up playing video games you are a Gen-Xer.

Unknown said...

I don't buy the predetermined birth year setups for any of the Generations as it is ridiculous. I was born '76 making me a GenX'er and in the same company as anyone who was born in '61 - '64... So by the time that the early 60's baby is ten years old they have lived their childhood in the 60's, and partially in the 70's during a more innocent albeit tulmultuous time and grew up watching the brady bunch, H.R. Pufnstuf and Scooby the time they are in high school there is Queen, Kiss, Disco coming on the scene, beginning punk scene, Star Wars etc... Being that I was born in ' the time I was 10 rap was coming on the scene, MTV had been around but I won't notice it for several more years and generally I am growing up in a very streamlined commercial age as opposed to the innocent 60's. I can't go through every difference here.
Mainly what I want to say is that setting apart a 15 - 20 year block and saying everyone in that time frame is from such n such group is inane... as we had completely different formative experiences as a whole. In my estimation the generations should be 10 year groupings not 15 to 20... and it should focus on where you were during the years 8 - 18... upto about 8 years old you are like any other kid... even now my 8 year old is a lot like my friends and I were at 8... just being kids... after 8 or so you start to develop your own individualistic personality which highly molded by current events and trends.

So it is just as senseless as my wife who is born in 61 to be a genxer and me be a genxer (76) when we both have completely different experiences and idiosyncratic modalities.

Anonymous said...

There is no way that I am a Baby Boomer. I agree with the previous commenter that the Baby Boom started earlier (1943). My siblings were born in 1943 and 1946 and are much more alike than I am like my 1946 sibling. It is almost like we are from two different universes. (I was born in the 1957-1964 age range.) I also agree with the poster before me that the Generation X definition stretches on too long....

Anonymous said...

Why would ANYONE born in the late 50's want to be called GENERATION-X? I can't think of any reason to be lumped in with the most SHALLOW, NARCISSISTIC, SNOTTY, RUDE, ARROGANT generation ever. GENERATION-X is a scourge, curse, and blight upon ALL EXISTENCE!

Anonymous said...

I think the generations should definitely be broken down.
For starters, I don't think 1943 should be considered a boomer year. Sure its treading close but remember, these kids would have been teens during the late 50's(15-16), when other boomers would be watching Howdy Doody and shit. They would have turned 20 in the early 60's and while many of them may have participated in the Boomer culture, many others would have started having children and raising families. 1943 belongs to the late Silent Generation, NOT to the Baby Boomers, named as such because of the massive boom in births that started in 1946, not simply by virtue of being born to GI's and their wives.
A generation should not extend 20 whole years or even 10-15 years. Generations are obviously defined by common cultural experiences. Given the speed of cultural change in some eras versus others, some generational boundaries will be shorter in comparison to other generations. That being said, lets examine some alternate generational boundaries.
1946-1956 should definitely be considered the "core boom". These would have been the kids most shaped by the 50's and 60's. '56'ers would have graduated in 1974, the last year of the Vietnam war, and the year of Watergate. They left school with the bullshit of the 60's. 1957-1964 constitutes a separate generation (call it Jones or whatever) of kids who came of age after Vietnam, during the Carter administration. These were the teens most shaped by Star Wars, punk rock, classic rock, as well as being the first generation to bare witness to the implications of US foreign policy choices in the Middle East (Iranian Revolution and the Hostage crisis). Reagan seemingly came as a breath of fresh air after the failed promise of Carter, breathing in new life into political conservatism.
Generation X can start around 1965 or 1966 and can be marked off around '76. These kids started high school in the 80's and were in their early 20's around the start of the 90's, experiencing economic decline, Gulf War 1, dot com businesses and the peak of grunge and rap/hip hop in their ascendancy.
1977-1984 should define a separate generation from Generation Y and X because, to be honest, these people weren't entirely like X'ers or Milennials. They were teens and young adults while Y'ers were in elementary and middle school, and X'ers had already started entering their 30's (circa 95). They were the first generation to be defined by the internet and technologies like the cell phone and Clintonia was pretty much in the backdrop. 9/11 was practically their graduation present.

Generation Y as we know it can begin around 1985 and should end around 1993 or 1994. As a Gen Y'er myself, I say we can be defined by our common experience of early internet as children, nintendo, Disney Renaissance films, Harry Potter books, facebook, myspace, youtube etc. These were part of our teenage culture, as opposed to those born in the late 70's-early 80's. They experienced these as college students or young adults out in the workforce. 9/11 was a real formative experience for us, rather than an event of our late teens.
I know everyone won't agree witht these boundaries I've set up. Some may even find themselves outside of a generation they identify with. It's ok. I know of many people in 1963 who identify either as straight up boomers or straight up X'ers. Or of 1984 kids who think they are Y. But I tried to break these up based on eras that were as tight and definable as possible.

Anonymous said...

I don't think 1943 should be called true Silent Generation like those that grew up in the Depression, nor should they be called Baby Boomers. 1941-1945 could maybe be called "War Babies".

As far as Generation X, I'd start it at 1968. By attitudes and culture, true Baby Boomers (early boomers) would be 1946-1957, while Generation Jones (late Boomers) would be 1958-1967. I say this because I know some people born in the mid 60s, such as two sisters born in 1964 and 1966 respectively and a brother born in 1967, I can say that although their attitudes are a lot like Generation X, their work ethics are very much like a Baby Boomer. My third sister born in 1969 and my other brother born in 1970 are very much Generation X.

As far as Generation Y goes, only some of those experiences apply to me, being a 1985 birth. I played Nintendo as a kid, but also Atari as a very little kid. Harry Potter books were a part of my teen years but for a kid in 9th grade they were more "geek niche" than standard. I was working age when 9/11 happened (16 in 11th grade), albeit just barely. Facebook and MySpace came out in my late teens and had yet to catch on, and YouTube didn't come out until I was a young adult, so I view YouTube differently than someone born in 1990 might, and it was not part of my formative experience. Disney Renaissance movies came out when I was a kid (if you mean like Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) so that applies to me. The X thing about the cell phone also applies to my generation, it was something few of us had in high school. However, I noticed kids just two grades younger than me had an entirely different view on things. They were more impacted by Facebook and MySpace than I was, and YouTube was cusp part of the tail end of their experience. I would say that many 1977-1984 had a lot of the "Y" things you listed as well.

Here are my generation divisions.

1905-1927: Greatest Generation
1928-1940: Early Silent Generation
1941-1945: Late Silent Generation
1946-1957: Core Baby Boom
1958-1967: Generation Jones
1968-1974: Early Generation X
1975-1985: Late Generation X
1986-1987: XY Cusp/Early Y
1988-1995: Core Generation Y
1996-2001: Early Z/Late Y
2002-Present: Generation Z

Anonymous said...

I know people born in the late 1950s who have parents who were born in 1943 and 1944.

Anonymous said...

Punk, Rap, Video games, Star Wars, Challenger Disaster, Berlin Wall falling. If you were old enough to have witnessed these occurrences and understood what happened without having an adult explain it, you are a Gen-Xer. A person born in 1964 has more in common with someone born in 1976 than someone born in the 40s or 50s as far as formative events. That Generation Jones stuff is bunk.

Donovan said...

I'm not an expert like this blogger, but from everything I've experienced, I think it goes like such:

-Greatest Generation: 1910-1940
-Boomers: 1940-1964
-GenX: 1964-1978
-Millennial: 1979-2010

For instance, this all makes sense when you consider politics today. Genx mostly vote Liberatarianish because they don't mind fiscal conservativism but endorse social progressiveness (legalization of drugs).

Boomers were raised during the US golden times, and as such trust everything they heard during adolescence: communism is evil, atheism is evil, etc

Millennials are a unique generation, mostly capitalist mixed with socially conscious. Of all generations, I think my generation, the Millennials will rival that of the Greatest Generation in terms of social progress/economic/science progress. Thanks to the Internet, among other things.

Anonymous said...

The latest poster probably has it more correct than anyone before him, though I'd make some very slight adjustments.

-Silent Generation: 1924-1944
-Boomers: 1945-1964
-GenX 1965-1978
-Millennial/GenY: 1978/9-1995
-GenZ: 1995/6-2011
Plus if you'd like:
1956-1964: Gen Jones/Late Boomer
1977-1985: XY Cusp
1992-1999: iGeneration or Z-Millennial (I made the second one up)

I don't base this off of my feelings but research into media patterns and cultural trends. I could go on forever explaining why this makes most sense to me but there will always be disagreements. I do think the late-80s born kids above whom are determined to completely remove early-80s babies from Gen-Y associations haven't done their research whatsoever. I can cite numerous media references going back to the earliest days of the term being used which included this group. If anything, 70s-early-80s were being identified as Y even before kids born well into the 90s were (who more recently seemed to have become Gen Ys, even though Gen-Z has simultaneously been defined to begin with early-90s babies). Although trend changes have started to place them in more of an XY cusp perspective. Still, for some reason a lot of post-85 kids seem to regard late 70s-early 80s folks as some kinda threat to their millennial identity. A generation is SUPPOSED to be a little sizey, get over it.

Anyway, that's my say.

juvenal said...

If anything, It's the gen exers who are afraid of.communism. The Boomers are in love with it. You never saw the hippy protestors waving the red flags screaming Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh? They're the generation for whom the term " red diaper babies" was.given.

juvenal said...

That's fine with me. It's not as if I'm all that eager to be included in the same generation with them either.

Benjamin said...

the term "red diaper baby" was not given to the baby boomer generation. a red diaper baby is the child of communist party members or other radical leftists.

juvenal said...

And many red diaper babies were boomers. It's a self described label that many members of the" New Left" subscribed to.

Anonymous said...

Whats with this "post 85" crappie? Why does keep using 85 as some marker? 85ers are the same as those in the late 80s, 83/4 to 89 is NOT that different.

Anonymous said...

Don't know where you're from but as someone born in 85 also a lot of what you said didn't apply to me nor a little of people I know our age. Us 85ers are no different then say the 86ers or 87ers. We all had the same experiences. Those few years didn't make a huge difference that like you like it to. And 85 is not a gen x year. There is no difference between 85 born and 86 born. These lines don't get it and I gave to tell it like it should.

Unknown said...


Anne said...

I was born in 64. I have nothing in common with baby boomers. I identify with generation X mostly.

Anonymous said...

Born in '76 and I agree wholeheartedly that late '50s to early '70s is more like a generation than any extant form of Generation X. I see it at larger family gatherings - us post '75 people just don't have the same formative experiences. We aren't Vietnam war babies, weren't old enough to think during the Cold War and are missing out on the whole '80s youth pop culture thing. We came of age during the internet - most of us don't really know what adulting is like without it and my parents were too afraid of child murderers to let me "run around outside until the streetlights came on". The only thing we can offer up to a Gen Xer is "I listened to Nirvana..... while I was still underage and living with my parents" It's just not enough. One type of music isn't sufficient to forge a generation.
The way I see it, Baby Boomers are characterized by their conscience experience during the Vietnam War/hippy era - anyone who wasn't at least 15 before 1972 might have serious difficulties dealing with the "remember whens" of someone born in 1949. That basically defines a generation for me right there - if your "remember whens" are completely alien to mine, I don't care if you are 10 years or 20 years older than I am - you are not my generation.
Gen Xers are people who were youths during the '80s, the last cohort old enough to be in high school before the Berlin Wall fell. I don't "get" their youth climate or their references. The rest of us - those of us that came afterward... well, we are what they used to call Generation Y before someone came up with the term Millennial and divided us up. We are defined by the rise of life online (and in front of computers) in all its forms, video games, video games and more video games, middle eastern wars and pop culture largely shaped by disaster movies, anime, hip-hop and boy bands. I guess we end as a collective with the last people to be youths (15-24) before 9/11, but it is much easier for me to identify with someone who came of age post 9/11 due to the similarity in political, technological and cultural aspects of our youths. I don't think it's a stretch to say that 1996 was more similar to 2006 than either was to 1986.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point ^^^

Anthony Brancato said...

I was born in 1958; my older brother, in 1955 - and I have always thought that the three years difference between us might as well have been 30 years.

And the 11 consecutive years of declining birth rates also has an expression on the back end as well as the front end, in that the Berlin Wall fell in November of 1989, effectively ending the Cold War, so that those born in 1968 were the last cohort to come of age before the Cold War ended, while those born in 1969 did not come of age until after the Cold War ended - having major implications for today's political divide, with the Baby Busters (born 1958-1968) often aligning themselves with older generations, while the younger Xers, or as I like to call them, the Core Xers (born 1969-1981) not having the same deep, subconscious fear of "socialism," and staking out a more progressive position.

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1966 and believe Gen X is probably correct for me, but I've always thought that the Baby Boom definition of 1946-1964 made no sense. The 1964 cutoff was supposed to be because that was the last year that over 4 million babies were born and nothing more.

This makes no sense to say that a Baby Boomer had to have been born in a year that over 4 million babies were born because 3.6 million were born in 1950 (undisputed Baby Boom) but 3.7 million babies were born in 1965 (Gen X). Culturally speaking it makes more sense to have Baby Boom years as 1945-1960 and Gen X as 1961-1976. This is why:

1) Birth control pill is introduced in 1960 so the downward spiral of births would have started in 1961 even though over 4 million babies were born that year.
2) JFK was assassinated in 1963. Nobody I know born after 1960 would has recollection of this event and people born in 1964 weren't even around!
3) 1961 is 16 years after WWII. Most WWII veterans were done creating families at this point. The average person born in 1961's parents would have been born in the Silent Generation (1928-1944).
4) Woodstock is a defining event for Baby Boomers. (Do you really think that a 5 year old born in 1964 would have had the desire to take part in this event?)

I have heard of a Generation Jones that encompasses people born in the 1957-1965 age groups which might even make more sense as there are people born in the late 1950s that wouldn't have fit into the hippie counterculture either.

Tee Hackner said...

My mom was born in ‘67 and she identifies fully as Gen X.

Tee Hackner said...

My mom was born in ‘67 and she identifies fully as Gen X.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree nothing in common with people born between 1946 & 1954. Completley different activities, partying, concerts, careers, friends & lifestyle