Generation Y

Generation Y

Generation Y', also known as the ' (or Millennials),[1][2] Generation Next,[3] Net Generation,[4] Echo Boomers,[5] or Worst Generation[6] describes the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, and commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s[7] to the early 2000s. [8] Members of this generation are called Echo Boomers, due to the significant increase in birth rates through the 1980s and into the 1990s, and because many of them are children of baby boomers.[9][10][11][12] The 20th century trend toward smaller families in developed countries continued,[13][14] however, so the relative impact of the "baby boom echo" was generally less pronounced than the original boom.

Characteristics of the generation vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions. However, it is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies. The effects of this environment are disputed.[15][16]



The Generation Y first appeared in an August 1993 Ad Age editorial to describe teenagers of the day, which they defined, at that time, as separate from Generation X, and then aged 12 or younger (born after 1981), as well as the teenagers of the upcoming ten years.[17] Since then, the company has sometimes used 1982 as the starting birth year for this generation.[18] "Generation Y" alludes to a succession from "Generation X."

The name "Echo Boomers"[5] refers to the size of the generation and its relation to the Baby boomer generation.[19]

Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe have been influential[citation needed] in defining American generations in their book Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 (1991).[20][21] Their generational theory is frequently cited in books and articles on the subject. Howe and Strauss maintain that they use the term Millennials in place of Generation Y because the members of the generation themselves coined the term, not wanting to be associated with Generation X. Almost a decade later, they followed their large study of the history of American demographics with a book devoted to the new generation, titled Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (2000).[22][23] In both books, William Strauss and Neil Howe use 1982 and 2001 as the start and end years of the generation, respectively. They believe that the coming of age of year 2000 high school graduates sharply contrasts with those born before them and after them due to the attention they received from the media and what influenced them politically.[24][25]

According to the authors' 1997 book, The Fourth Turning, modern history repeats itself every four generations; approximately 80–100 years. The authors of the book mention that the four-cycles always come in the same order. The first one, the High cycle, occurs when a new order or human expansion is developed, replacing the older one. The next cycle is called the Awakening. More spiritual than the previous, this is a time of rebellion against the already established order. The third cycle is known as the Unraveling, when elements of individualism and fragmentation take over society, developing a troubled era which leads directly to the Fourth Turning, an era of crisis dominating society during which a redefinition of its very structure, goals, and purposes is established.

Each generation has its archetypes, the four having the following one defined as: Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist. According to the aforementioned book, Millennials belong to the Hero category, featuring a deep trust in authority and institutions; being somewhat conventional, but still powerful. They grew up during an Unraveling cycle with more protections than the previous generation (Gen X). They are heavily dependent on team work, and thus, when they come of age, turn into the heroic team-working young people of a Crisis. In their middle years, they become the energetic, decisive, and strong leaders of a High cycle; and in old age, they become the criticized powerful elders of an Awakening cycle. Another previous generation that belongs to this category is The Greatest Generation (1916–1924).[26]

One author, Elwood Carlson, locates the American generation, which he calls "New Boomers," between 1983 and 2001, because of the upswing in births after 1983, finishing with the "political and social challenges" that occurred after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and the "persistent economic difficulties" of the time.[27]

In Australia, there is much debate over the dates of Generation Y - that is, when "Gen Y" began, and the "cut-off" period. It is generally accepted, however, that the first "Gen Y" members were born in 1982. Though some sources use the date range 1982-1995 for the generation, many, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, use 1982-2000.[28][29][30][31][32]

In Canada, 1982 is generally thought to be the starting birth year for Generation Y, ending in the mid-1990s or 2000, sometimes even as late as 2004.[33][34][35][36][37][38]

Like members of Generation X, who are heavily influenced by the advent of MTV, early members of Generation Y are also sometimes called the MTV Generation. This term can also be a catch phrase for youth of the late 20th century, depending on the context.[39][40][41][42]

Jean Twenge, author of the 2007 book Generation Me, considers Generation Y along with later Xers to be part of a generation called Generation Me. This is based on personality surveys that showed increasing narcissism among this generation compared to Boomers when they were teens and twentysomethings. She questions the predictions of Strauss & Howe that this generation would come out civic-minded, citing the fact that when the War on Iraq began military enlistments went down instead of up.[43]

Twenge attributes confidence and tolerance to this generation, as well as a sense of entitlement, narcissism and rejection of social conventions.

Fred Bonner believes that much of the commentary on the Millennial Generation may be partially accurate, but overly general and that many of the traits they describe apply primarily to "white, affluent teenagers who accomplish great things as they grow up in the suburbs, who confront anxiety when applying to super-selective colleges, and who multitask with ease as their helicopter parents hover reassuringly above them." Other socio-economic groups often do not display the same attributes commonly attributed to Generation Y. During class discussions, he has listened to black and Hispanic students describe how some or all of the so-called seven core traits did not apply to them. They often say the "special" trait, in particular, is unrecognizable. "It's not that many diverse parents don't want to treat their kids as special," he says, "but they often don't have the social and cultural capital, the time and resources, to do that."[44]


Experts differ on the actual start date of Generation Y. Some sources use starting dates as early as 1976.[45] Other sources use 1978, 1980, or 1982. Generation Y is the group generally considered to be the last generation of children wholly born in the 20th century. Source(s)[46][47][48] And while 1982 is a fairly common start date, some sources use even later dates.[27] Sources citing 1982 mark the end the generation either in the early or mid-1990s or the early 2000s, with 1982-1995 and 1982-2000 as common ranges.[9][10][11][49] Today, there are approximately 80 million Echo Boomers.[10]

The majority of Generation Y is culturally liberal[50] with many supporting modern yet historically more liberal views in general as well as various other politically liberal stances, but, in spite of the new dominant liberal growth, a growing number of new youth clubs and groups have been created in developed countries (such as the US, UK, Japan, Australia and Italy) to take the task of promoting and preserving conservative views and religious beliefs (i.e. the rapid growth of nondenominational churches by gen-Yers), such as free market principles and "socially conservative" behavior (i.e. abstinence from drug experimentation, underage drinking and premarital sex).[citation needed][51] Since the 2000 U.S. Census which allowed persons to select more than one racial group, "Millennials" in abundance have asserted their right to have all their heritages respected, counted and acknowledged[52]

Generation Y'ers are largely the children of the Baby Boomers. Younger members of this generation have parents that belong to Generation X, and some older members have parents that are members of the Silent Generation.

There are different views regarding Generation Y. When the term originated in 1993, it referred to teenagers aged 13 to 19 at the time (born between 1974 and 1980) with "more to come over the next 10 years". Here is a verbatim reprint of the actual Advertising Age op ed. of August 30, 1993 -- the above erroneous information notwithstanding:

"That cynical, purple-haired blob watching TV, otherwise known as Generation X, has been giving marketers fits for a long time. He doesn't respond to advertising, isn't brand-loyal and probably doesn't have much discretionary income, i.e. a job. But help is on the way. Following this angry young adult generation is a group of teens-agers who are leaving Generation X at the gate. There are 27 million of these 13-to-19-year-olds spending $ 95 billion a year, and both numbers will rise in the next 10 years. As our headline last week pointed out, this group is interested in real life, real solutions.

"Teens care -- about AIDS, race relations, child abuse and abortion. But instead of saying, I got screwed, they say, What am I going to do about it? They like to volunteer and they respond to marketers who they can believe are helping make the world better. There are other differences with Generation X. Male teens read and don't spend all their time in front of the TV. A Roper survey showed that 83% of male teens read a major magazine at least once every four weeks, and 43% subscribe to a magazine. Comic books and place-based media are good ways to reach teens. If they're over 16, they listen to radio.

"OK, they like to shop for price and dump a brand if it gets costly. In personal care products especially, teens look for bargains. But Jane Grossman, Seventeen publisher, says they love brands and trust advertising more than any other group.

"That advertising can address them honestly and seriously without their tuning out. The Gap, Reebok and Bausch & Lomb are but three of the marketers that speak to teens without condescending to hip-hop language to do it. And they are reaping the benefits, proving again there are no smarter consumers than our average teen-agers, and no smarter marketers than those who speak honestly to them."


Economic prospects for the Millennials have worsened due to the late-2000s recession.[53][54] Several governments have instituted major youth employment schemes out of fear of social unrest due to the dramatically increased rates of youth unemployment.[55] In Europe, youth unemployment levels are very high (40% in Spain, 35% in the Baltic states, 19.1% in Britain[56] and more than 20% in many more). In 2009 leading commentators began to worry about the long term social and economic effects of the unemployment.[57] Unemployment levels in other areas of the world are also high, with the youth unemployment rate in the U.S. reaching a record level (19.1%, July 2010) since the statistic started being gathered in 1948.[58] In the United States the economic difficulties have led to dramatic increases in youth poverty, unemployment, and the numbers of young people living with their parents.[59] It has been argued that this unemployment rate and poor economic situation has given Generation Y a rallying call with the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement.[60] In Canada, unemployment amongst youths aged 15 to 24 years of age in July 2009 was 15.9%, the highest it had been in 11 years.[61]

Generation Y who grew up in Asian countries show different preferences and expectations of work to those who grew up in the US or Europe. This is usually attributed to the differing cultural and economic conditions experienced while growing up.[62]

The Millennials are sometimes called the "Trophy Generation", or "Trophy Kids,"[63] a term that reflects the trend in competitive sports, as well as many other aspects of life, where mere participation is frequently enough for a reward. It has been reported that this is an issue in corporate environments.[63] Some employers are concerned that Millennials have too great expectations from the workplace.[64] Studies predict that Generation Y will switch jobs frequently, holding far more than Generation X due to their great expectations.[65] To address these new challenges, many large firms are currently studying the social and behaviorial patterns of Millennials and are trying to devise programs that decrease intergenerational estrangement, and increase relationships of reciprocal understanding between older employees and Millennials, while at the same time making Millennials more comfortable. The UK's Institute of Leadership & Management researched the gap in understanding between Generation Y recruits and their managers in collaboration with Ashridge Business School.[66] The findings included high expectations for advancement, salary and for a coaching relationship with their manager, and suggested that organisations will need to adapt to accommodate and make the best use of Generation Y. In an example of a company trying to do just this, Goldman Sachs conducts training programs that use actors to portray Millennials who assertively seek more feedback, responsibility, and involvement in decision making. After the performance, employees discuss and debate the generational differences they have seen played out.[63]

Peter Pan Generation

This generation is also sometimes referred to as the Boomerang Generation or Peter Pan Generation, because of the members' perceived penchant for delaying some rites of passage into adulthood, longer periods than most generations before them. These labels were also a reference to a trend toward members living with their parents for longer periods than previous generations.[67]

As a group, Generation Y are said to be much closer to their parents than their parents' generation, the Baby Boomers were. [68] While 40% of Baby Boomers in 1974 claimed they would be "better off without their parents" according to one study, 90% of Generation Y'ers claimed to be "extremely close" to their parents in another study. [69] Most also claim that the older generations had better morals.[68] Generation Y also saw the highest divorce rates of their parents, was the highest amount of children in foster care programs, and the highest amounts of child abuse cases in U.S. history.[citation needed]

According to Kimberly Palmer "High housing prices, the rising cost of higher education, and the relative affluence of the older generation are among the factors driving the trend."[70] However, other explanations are seen as contributing. Questions regarding a clear definition of what it means to be an adult also impacts a debate about delayed transitions into adulthood. For instance, one study by professors at Brigham Young University found that college students are more likely now to define "adult" based on certain personal abilities and characteristics rather than more traditional "rite of passage" events.[71] Dr. Larry Nelson, one of the three Marriage, Family, and Human Development professors to perform the study, also noted that some Millennials are delaying the transition from childhood to adulthood as a response to mistakes made by their parents. "In prior generations, you get married and you start a career and you do that immediately. What young people today are seeing is that approach has led to divorces, to people unhappy with their careers ... The majority want to get married [...] they just want to do it right the first time, the same thing with their careers."[71]


In the United States, Generation Y has a slightly lower level of religiosity to older generations, and they are more likely to be skeptical of religious institutions.[68] A 2005 study looked at 1,385 people aged 18 to 25 and found that over half of those in the study said that they pray regularly before a meal. A third said that they talked about religion with friends, attend places of worship, and read religious materials weekly. 23% of those studied did not identify themselves as belonging to a religious affiliation.[72]

Communication and interaction

The Millennial Generation (or Gen Y), like other generations, has been shaped by the events, leaders, developments and trends of its time.[73] The rise of instant communication technologies made possible through use of the internet, such as email, texting, and IM and new media used through websites like YouTube and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, may explain the Millennials' reputation for being somewhat peer-oriented due to easier facilitation of communication through technology.[74] The internet has also revolutionized music, allowing music to be created without a major label, but has also blunted the ability for a generational defining sound to be created. (Rock and soul for baby boomers, grunge and hip hop for Generation X)[75][76] The indie rock of the 2000s has been attributed to Generation Y.[77] A 2000 USA Today article stated "Music that Generation Y listens to at the moment tends to be more rhythmically driven and more rooted in hip hop than rock, my guess is when they get older and start to date and go out at night with friends, dance music will become relevant."[78]

Expression and acceptance has been highly important to this generation. In well-developed nations, several cohorts of Generation Y members have found comfort in online games such as MMORPGs and virtual worlds like World of Warcraft and Second Life.[79] Flash mobbing, internet memes, and online communities have given some of the more expressive Generation Y members acceptance, while online pen pals have given the more socially timid individuals acceptance as well.[80]

There is a trend among Millennials to choose urban, or gentrified neighborhoods, as their preferred living situations.[81]

Digital technology

In their 2007 book, authors Junco and Mastrodicasa expanded on the work of Howe and Strauss to include research-based information about the personality profiles of Millennials, especially as it relates to higher education. They conducted a large-sample (7,705) research study of college students. They found that Next Generation college students, born between 1982–1992, were frequently in touch with their parents and they used technology at higher rates than people from other generations. In their survey, they found that 97% of these students owned a computer, 94% owned a cell phone, and 56% owned an MP3 player. They also found that students spoke with their parents an average of 1.5 times a day about a wide range of topics. Other findings in the Junco and Mastrodicasa survey revealed 76% of students used instant messaging, 92% of those reported multitasking while IMing, 40% of them used television to get most of their news, and 34% of students surveyed used the Internet.[82][83]

In June 2009, Nielsen released the report, "How Teens Use Media" which discussed the latest data on media usage by generation. In this report, Nielsen set out to redefine the dialogue around media usage by the youngest of Generation Y, extending through working age Generation Y and compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers.[84] One of the more popular forms of media use in Generation Y is through social networking. In 2010, research was published in the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research which claimed that students who used social media and decided to quit showed the same withdrawal symptoms of a drug addict who quit their stimulant.[85]

Cultural identity

Some have argued that the Millennials have "moved beyond" the ideological battles spawned by the counterculture of the 1960s, which persisted through the 1990s in the form of the culture wars.[86] This is further documented in Strauss & Howe's book titled Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, which describes the Millennial generation as "civic minded," rejecting the attitudes of the Baby Boomers and Generation X.[87] Generation Y'ers never truly rebelled against their parents, unlike prior generations, often enjoying the same music, movies and products as their parents.[88]

See also


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