Generation Names


unified hands from different generationsThe GenUnison Guide to Generation Names and Ages

Perhaps you’ve heard the names of generations before, names like The Greatest Generation, The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials or Gen Z, and always wondered which generation was yours. Or perhaps you’re wondering about the name of your children’s or grandchildren’s generations. GenUnison is a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges between our generations with frank conversations and accurate information about generational identities. 

Here, you can find out more about your generation and the generations of your loved ones and co-workers, as a way of understanding the events and values that helped forge who they are as a person. You may also look at your own upbringing and priorities in a new light.

“What Generation am I?”

what generation am I quiz?

What are the generation names and years?

  • Greatest Generation (b. 1901 to 1927)
  • Silent Generation (b. 1928 to 1945)
  • Baby Boomers (b. 1946 to 1964)
  • Gen X (b. 1965 to 1980)
  • Millennials (b. 1981 to 1996)
  • Gen Z (b. 1997 to 2012)
  • Gen Alpha (b. 2013 to ?)

How are generations named?

The process of determining the start and end dates of generations is a complex one, and there is no single agreed-upon method. However, there are a few common factors that are often considered when making these determinations.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts (2018), “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.”

One important factor is historical events. Major historical events, such as wars, economic crises, or technological advancements, can often serve as markers for the beginning or end of a generation. For example, the Great Depression is often seen as the end of the Lost Generation and the beginning of the Roaring Twenties.

Another important factor is cultural trends. Changes in fashion, music, art, and literature can also be used to identify the start and end of generations. For example, the rise of rock and roll is often seen as a defining characteristic of the Baby Boomer generation.

Finally, demographic changes can also be used to determine the start and end of generations. For example, the Baby Boomer generation is defined by the large number of people born in the United States after World War II.

Additionally, it’s important to note that while global events, such as World War I, World War II, and pandemics shape a generation in all nations directly impacted by these events, not all countries have the same generational designations. The United States and the UK, in particular, have been actively defining characteristics of generations and gathering data based on generational demographics on behalf of North America and Western Europe. Thus, many of the generational designations in this piece focus on a Western perspective. Nations on other continents, including Asia, Africa, and Australia, will have their own distinctions based on historical events and regional epidemics or famines that didn’t directly impact western nations. 

Generational studies are evolving very quickly, but naming generations wasn’t common until the end of the 1800’s, when Western Author Gertrude Stein told her protégé, Ernest Hemingway, in the epitaph of his 1926 book The Sun Also Rises, “You are all a lost generation.” They became known as the Lost Generation because of their “disoriented, wandering, directionless” nature after the First World War. The generation after Hemingway’s first became known as the GI Generation because they grew up during World War I and came into adulthood in time to serve as soldiers for World War II.

Learn more about the sandwich generation which refers to the middle generation that must care for both their aging parents and children at the same time.


Greatest Generation (b. 1901 to 1927)

Notable Icons: Marilyn Monroe, Rosa Parks, Frank Sinatra, Mother Teresa, Lou Gehrig

Worldwide: estimated approximately 343k individuals as of 2020

US Population: estimated 75-90k individuals as of 2020

Members of the Greatest Generation came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. Their lives were marked by the economic hardship of the depression and the total mobilization of American society during the war. Originally called the GI Generation because so this generation was drafted into fighting World War II, the term “Greatest Generation” comes from the title of a 1998 book by American journalist Tom Brokaw about the generation. Many of the formative events of the Greatest Generation happened during World War II including the Attack on Pearl Harbor, The Holocaust, the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and D-Day in Normandy, France. Testimonies of US Pearl Harbor Survivors and Japanese atomic bomb survivors can be seen in the PBS Documentary, “Sakura & Pearls; Healing From World War II.” This generation is known for their sense of personal duty in the face of adversity, setting the standard of personal accountability and sacrifice for the benefit of their communities. 


Silent Generation (b. 1928 to 1945)

Notable Icons: John Lennon, Anne Frank, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celia Cruz, Bruce Lee, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, The Dalai Lama, Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)

US Population: 5.49%

Ethnicity: Making up 5.49% of the overall US population, the Silent Generation makes up the following percentages by ethnicity:

  • White: 10%
  • Black: 5%
  • Asian: 6%
  • Hispanic: 4%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 4%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 5%

Economic Power: 17.6%

The Silent Generation grew up during a time of war and economic depression, but were too young to serve in the armed forces during World War II. This post-war generation was nicknamed the “Radio Babies” because sitting around the radio was a major form of entertainment before the rise of television. They are also called the “Traditionalists” as they paved the path of the new normal after the turmoil of World War II. Having been socialized in a time of strong government and societal cohesion, they are often described as conventional and conformist. They are called the “silent” generation because many focused on their careers rather than on activism, and people often describe them as being less outspoken than the surrounding generations. They grew up with the old saying, “children should be seen, not heard.”


Baby Boomers (b. 1946 to 1964)

Notable Icons: Michael Jordan, Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, Erin Brockovich, Bill Gates, Shinzo Abe, Whoopie Goldberg, Freddie Mercury

US Population: 20.58%

Ethnicity: Making up 20.58% of the overall US population, the Baby Boomer Generation makes up the following percentages by ethnicity:

  • White: 26%
  • Black: 20%
  • Asian: 19%
  • Hispanic: 13%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 17%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 20%

Economic Power: 43.4%

Baby Boomers were part of the post-World War II baby boom, with significantly higher birth rates compared to other periods. As economic prosperity bloomed in Western countries, families had the resources to have multiple children, resulting in a population boom. The population spurt gave rise to Suburbia as bustling cities spilled out the surrounding rural areas to build houses with yards. Boomers grew up with lots of siblings and classmates with a shortage of teachers to educate them. This generation quickly learned to compete in order to be seen and heard, giving them the reputation of being loud and proud in a stark contrast to the Silent and Greatest generations. The Boomer years are often associated with economic prosperity, optimism, and social change. This generation was also notable for its role in the civil rights movement, feminism, founding Earth Day and the counterculture of the 1960s. They were once the largest generation by population in history and are currently a close second to the largest Millennials Generation. They are currently the world’s richest generation. Since the Baby Boomer generation spans over more years than others, the youngest Baby Boomers are often called Generation Jones born 1954-1965 as they were too young to be hippies at Woodstock or to hear Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” and were more influenced by the Watergate Scandal, an unprecedented spike in divorce rates, and stagflation of a slumping economy.  Bill Gates and Madonna fall into this generational cohort. 


Gen X (b.1965 to 1980)

Notable Icons: Mike Tyson, Björk, Tom Brady, Selena Quintanilla Pérez, Kurt Cobain, Salma Hayek

US Population: 19.61%

Ethnicity: Making up 19.61% of the overall US population, the Generation X makes up the following percentages by ethnicity:

  • White: 20%
  • Black: 20%
  • Asian: 23%
  • Hispanic: 21%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 21%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 19%

Economic Power: 26.2%

Gen X was first labeled “Generation X” by sociologists when they were too young to represent their unknown characteristics. The term stuck because this non-conformist generation didn’t want to fit into the societal boxes created by their elder generations. Gen X is sometimes referred to as the “latchkey generation”, a reference to how they were the first generation to have their own set of keys to their home because both parents were working and no one was home to greet them. Members of Gen X take pride in having raised themselves with little parental guidance. They were forged during a time of reduced adult supervision compared to previous generations, a result of increasing divorce rates and more mothers joining the workforce. They also grew up during the advent of the personal computer and entered adulthood during the rise of the internet and the 24 hour TV music channel MTV, marking a shift towards digital technology. Generation X are often described as being independent and resourceful, opting to figure things out on their own rather than collaborating in big teams. A counter-culture rebellion arose against the long work hours and materialistic competition of the previous generation, showing a value shift towards a work-life balance. Gen X are sometimes referred to as the “forgotten generation” or “middle child generation” because they were born between the older Baby Boomers and younger Millennials, the two largest generations in history. 


Xennials  (b. 1977 to 1983)

Xennials or the Xennial Generation is a term used to describe a micro-generation born at the end of Gen X and the start of the Millennials between 1977 and 1983. Xennials are known for being highly adaptable to change and natural born bridge-builders because these cuspers were born between generations. While Gen X is often cast in the media as isolated cynics and Millennials are portrayed as being more optimistic collaborators, Xennials are the realists who are neither pessimistic nor hyper-idealistic as they live by the mantra “things change”. Members of the Xennial Generation grew up during a lightning fast shift in technology, listening to analogue cassette tapes on Walkman’s as young children, quickly graduating to CD’s in late childhood, later watching DVD’s in their teens, and going to college with their iPods. They had internet access in their adolescence, using email and the very first social media platforms as teenagers, then later gained access to cell phones in their college years. As generational cuspers, Xennials are known for thriving in changing environments, because they had to bridge relationships between Gen X and Millennials in their social lives and workplace. As such, they make highly effective mediators, peacebuilders, and project managers. Xennials entered adulthood in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack which marked a new error of global terrorism that further shaped this realistic micro-generation as stabilizers and conflict resolution specialists.   


Millennials (b. 1981 to 1996)

Notable Icons: Ariana Grande, Emma Watson, Serena Williams, Michael Phelps

Worldwide: 1.8 billion, or about 23% of world population

US Population: 21%

Ethnicity: Making up 21% of the overall US population, the Millennial Generation makes up the following percentages by ethnicity:

  • White: 20%
  • Black: 24%
  • Asian: 27%
  • Hispanic: 25%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 27%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 24%

Economic Power: 9.6%

Millennials came of age during the turn of the millennium, giving them their name. Initially labeled Generation Y as the generation following Gen X, the Millennial Generation grew up during constant technological change as the Internet expanded and social media platforms like 6 Degrees, MySpace, LinkedIn and FaceBook revolutionized social interactions. Fueled by digital technology, Millennials made friends with people on other sides of the world on a scale that was previously not possible in other generations. Millennials initially grew up in a more idyllic, stable world only to have that security disrupted by the 9/11 Terrorist Attack and the Columbine shooting. The Millennial response to 9/11 has largely been to become more involved with volunteer opportunities and to lead the expansion of social media throughout the world. Now the largest generation in history, Millennials are known for being more comfortable with diversity, innovators of digital technology, and are often described as being more likely to collaborate with team members when compared to previous generations.

Zillennials or Zennials (b. 1993 to 1999)

Zillennials or the Zennial Generation is an emerging micro-generation born on the cusp of Millennials and Gen Z and were the first gneration born post 9/11. Like Gen Z, they grew up entirely on the internet having dial up access as children and high speed access by their adolescence. However, they were raised by older Gen X and younger Boomers (Generation Jones), so they were exposed to these generational expectations. This micro-generation is still being defined as sociologists debate the defining dates of brith for this emerging cohort. Stay tuned.


Gen Z (b. 1997 to 2012)

Notable Icons: Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Simone Biles, Auliʻi Cravalho, Tom Holland, Billie Eilish

US Population: 20.88%

Ethnicity: Making up 20.88% of the overall US population, Generation Z makes up the following percentages by ethnicity:

  • White: 23%
  • Black: 31%
  • Asian: 25%
  • Hispanic: 38%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 31%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 32%

Economic Power: 3.3%

Born 1997 to 2012, members of Generation Z are digital natives, having grown up with the Internet and social media as a normal part of life. They are noted for their comfort with technology, their ability to multitask across multiple digital platforms, and their emphasis on social justice issues. Continuing with the tradition since Gen X was first called Generation X because it was an unknown entity, and Millennials were called Gen Y before their more popular name took over, Gen Z was given it’s name alphabetically. They have also been called iGen because they were raised so intimately with handheld electronic devices. This generation reports the greatest level of climate anxiety in several polls because of the increasing storms and natural disasters connected with Climate Change.


Gen Alpha (b. 2013 to ?)

Notable Icons: Like Nastya, Prince George

Born 2013 to possibly 2025, Gen Alpha are the children of millennials. It’s too early to have a full profile of this generation, as they are still very young. However, they are expected to be the most technologically immersed generation yet, as they are growing up with smartphones, AI, and other advanced technology as a normal part of life. What gifts will they bring humanity?


Generations FAQs

What are the ages of each generation?

The age range of the 7 living generations in 2023 are:

  • Greatest Generation: 96+ years old
  • Silent Generation: 78-95 years old
  • Baby Boomers: 57-75 years old
  • Gen X: 43-58 years old
  • Millennials: 27-42 years old 
  • Gen Z: 11-26 years old
  • Gen Alpha: Roughly 0-10 years old

What’s the difference between Millennials and Gen Z?

Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and Gen Z (born 1997 to 2012) differ in their relationship with technology, economic outlook, communication styles, perspectives on social issues, and attitudes towards mental health. While both are technologically adept, Millennials witnessed the transition to the digital age, while Gen Z are digital natives, born into a world of internet and smartphones. Economically, Millennials were hit by the Great Recession, which has made Gen Z more financially cautious. Millennials have also been adults for longer; the eldest of the millennial generation turned 40 in 2019. Differences also arise in social issues and mental health attitudes, with Gen Z generally being more progressive and open about discussing mental health.

What’s the difference between Millennials and Gen X?

Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and Generation X (born 1965 to 1980) differ notably in their experiences with technology, societal conditions, and economic realities. Gen X grew up in an era before the widespread use of digital technology, while Millennials have been shaped significantly by the internet and social media. Societally, Gen X, often termed the “latchkey” generation, grew up in a time of shifting societal norms, with increasing divorce rates and more dual-income households. Economically, Millennials have faced more economic instability, often attributed to the fallout from the 2008 recession, while Gen X was more affected by economic downturns in the early 1980s and 2000s.

What’s the difference between Baby Boomers and Millennials?

Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) differ significantly in their experiences with technology, economic conditions, and societal values. Baby Boomers grew up in a pre-digital age, while Millennials have been greatly shaped by the advent of the internet and social media. Economically, Baby Boomers enjoyed the prosperity of the post-WWII era, while Millennials have grappled with economic instability and higher levels of student debt. Additionally, societal values have shifted, with Millennials generally displaying more progressive attitudes on issues like diversity and climate change compared to their Boomer counterparts.

What is the Generation Gap?

The generation gap refers to the differences in opinions, values, behaviors, and attitudes between one generation and another—particularly, between young people and their parents or grandparents. These differences may be related to politics, technology, culture, social attitudes, values and ethics, and more.

The gap is often amplified by the rapid pace of change in society, particularly technological change. For instance, older generations may struggle to understand the experiences of younger generations who have grown up in the digital age, leading to differences in perspectives and communication styles.

While it can lead to misunderstandings and conflict, the generation gap can also drive societal progress and innovation, as each generation brings its unique perspectives and experiences to address the challenges of their time.

What is the sandwich generation?

The sandwich generation refers to middle-aged individuals who are essentially “sandwiched” between caring for their aging parents and their own children. These individuals often face financial, emotional, and time pressures due to their dual caregiving responsibilities. The term highlights the challenges faced by this group as life expectancy increases and people have children later in life. This phenomenon has grown more common in recent years due to these demographic shifts.

What is a gen?

The abbreviation ‘gen’ is short for the word generation. In demographic terms, a generation is a group of people born around the same time and raised in similar places. They often share similar characteristics, experiences, values, and attitudes due to their shared context. Some of the most commonly referenced generations include Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials (also known as Gen Y), and Gen Z. Each of these “gens” has been shaped by the unique historical, cultural, and technological changes of their time.

What is Generation Jones?

Generation Jones is a term coined by social historian Jonathan Pontell to describe those born between the years 1954 and 1965. This group is considered a sub-generation of the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Generation X (1965-1980). The term “Jones” refers to a sense of unfulfilled expectations, influenced by the cultural and economic shifts of their formative years.

This generation experienced a different historical and cultural context compared to their older Baby Boomer counterparts. While the older Baby Boomers experienced the optimism and prosperity of the post-WWII era, members of Generation Jones grew up during a time of economic uncertainty and social change, including the oil crisis, increasing divorce rates, and the end of the Vietnam War.

Because of these different experiences, Generation Jones often shares characteristics of both Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. They witnessed the rise of digital technology but are not digital natives like Millennials or Gen Z. They have been called a “lost” generation because they are less defined than the generations around them, caught between the high expectations of the Baby Boomers and the cynicism of Generation X.


Read Next:

Generational Wealth




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