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  1. Generations The role of Millennials, GenX, Boomers, Silents and Plurals in society and culture Dr. Pete Markiewicz Indiespace/Lifecourse Associates

  2. Topics • What are generations? • Cohort effects • Defining generations • Generational models • Generation Me • GenY • Millennials • The S&H generational model • Features • Evidence

  3. What are generations? • Common birth range (cohorts) • Shared place in history, common experience • Features cross gender, racial, ethnic lines • Retain attitudes independently of their biological age Generations DO NOT define individuals. Rather, they are a public “archetype” referenced by individuals within the generation.

  4. Life Stage vs. Generation • Example of “Life Stage” statements “…Kids always rebel” “…old people are conservative” • Example of “Generational” statements “…Boomers are re-defining what it means to be old” “...Youth today are closer to their parents in values and culture than the youth of 30 years ago”

  5. What is generation-dependent? Traits depending on cohort/generation Taste in music, pop culture Attitudes toward money, debt Sense of personal/collective destiny Traits depending on generation and life stage Politics Attitudes to children (the biggest effect is having them) Traits depending on life stage Candy preference Risk-taking behavior None of the above Expectations for children of immigrants

  6. Cohort effects US CD sales by age, 1991-2005 Baby Boomers purchase more music than other generations, even as they grow older Napster Younger generations were buying less music before Napster SOURCE: RIAA

  7. Cohort effects Suicide Rates, Teen and Adults Boomers in 1979 Boomers in 2003 SOURCE: US 2000 Census data

  8. Cohort effects

  9. Out of wedlock – age effects Out of Wedlock Births, by Age, 1980-2008 SOURCE:

  10. Out of wedlock – relative Out of Wedlock Births, Normalized, 1980-2008 SOURCE:

  11. Defining generations • Birthrates and Population (parent optimism) • Society-wide attitudes to children • Parental child-rearing strategies • Youth “zeitgeist” • External behavior (crimes, community service participation, chosen professions, pop culture) • Internal states (beliefs, feelings, attitudes about oneself) • Perceived role in history (the generational “myth”)

  12. US births - per 1000 Relative Birthrates per Thousand, 1910-2009 WWII Gen Wave Boomer Wave Echo Boom Birthrates per 1000 SOURCE:

  13. US births - absolute Absolute Births, 1910-2009 Boomer Millennial Millions Xer Silent

  14. US population by age Millennial Wave Boomer Wave WWII Gen Wave

  15. Desire for kids Teen Pregnancy/Abortion Ratios, 1972-2008 Rowe vs. Wade Fewer Pregnancies Carried to term Millennial Birth Years More Pregnancies Carried to term SOURCE: Guttmacher Institute

  16. Child-rearing strategies • 1970s • Child-rearing manuals advised letting the child “raise themselves” to avoid hampering parental self-discovery • Children were seen as “little adults” • Education strategies threw away rules in favor of exploration • 1990s • Child-rearing manuals advised strict rules with a paternal style • Family values replaced self-discovery • Children were seen as…well, children • Education moved to standards-based tests with scores and levels

  17. Society’s attitude to youth GenX (late 1980s) Millennial (early 2000s)

  18. Perceived role in history • Generations may see themselves as: • Heroes fixing the world • Prophets redeeming the world • Nomads trying to survive the world • Popular culture (e.g. movies) archetypes may describe generational styles

  19. Generational models • Generation Me (Twenge) • GenY (Bruce Tulgan) • Millennials Rising (Strauss & Howe) • GenY (Ad Age) • GenTech/Net (Various)

  20. How Generational Models Differ • Generation Me (Jean Twenge) • Focus on reported “inward” feelings • Negative about youth • GenY (Bruce Tulgan) • Focus on “outward” characteristics • Generations mapped to business savvy • Neutral about youth • Millennials Rising (Strauss & Howe, Winograd & Hais) • Focus on “outward” characteristics • Generations fit to archetypes • Very positive about youth • GenY (Ad Age) and GenTech/Net • Focus on current media use • Generations mapped to technology • Positive about youth (as avid consumers)

  21. Generation “Me” • Developed by Jean Twenge, PhD • Similar analysis in “Lost in Transition” by Smith et. al. • Emphasis: • Uses reported inner feelings to define generations • Connects negative youth attitudes to “broken” popular culture • Blames rise in narcissistic behavior due to indulgent Boomer parenting styles • Traces breakdown in moral reasoning to “postmodernism” education • Fragile economy driving increased dependency of children on parents SOURCES: Gen ME website: Lost In Transition, Christian Smith et. al., Oxford

  22. Generation “Me” • Features • Overly-entitled attitudes with “special” feeling • Relativistic reasoning • “Submersion of self into private networks of technologically managed intimates and associates.” • Failure to launch from parents • Maximize options/postpone commitments • “Good” behavior due only to society pressure • Alienated, anxiety-burdened, miserable inner lives • Prescriptive • Parents should reduce “I am special” parenting • Schools should emphasize, critical thinking

  23. Developed by Bruce Tulgan Several authors make similar analysis (e.g. Carolyn Martin, Homo mobilis in The Economist) Emphasis: GenY (Bruce Tulgan) • GenX * GenX = GenY • Pampered, nurtured, programmed by indulgent parents • Polished by social networks • More information-savvy than their bosses • Raised to equate social interaction with network communication • Born to multitask

  24. GenY (Bruce Tulgan) • Features: • Expect constant praise for “specialness” • Information-smart: more factoids at their fingertips • Local transactions are the only reality • Constantly optimize work & life via social networks • Demand work-life balance • High value on personal self fulfillment • Ignore business hierarchy • Prescriptive • More equal employer-employee relationships • Let them exploit their networks • Flexibility in work time, methods • Clearly describe, “gamelike” levels in a career

  25. Strauss & Howe • Developed by Bill Strauss & Neil Howe • Similar analysis by Morley Winograd & Mike Hais focuses on US political cycles • Emphasis: • Uses outer behavior to define generations • Generations are defined by parenting, zeitgeist • Describes an ~80 year cycle which sees the passage of 4 generational archetypes: • Defines historical “realignments” based on features of rising generation • Civic – Millennial, “Greatest” Gen • Adaptative – Silent, Plural • Prophet – Boomer, “Missionary” • Nomad – GenX, “Lost” SOURCES: Generations: A History of America’s Future Lifecourse Website:

  26. Strauss & Howe • Features • Millennials are a “Civic” generation • They will shift society in a “conventional” direction • A “fix-it” gen repairing damage from the1960s and 1970s • “Special” and “sheltered” but also “achieving” and “pressured” • Millennials look to the group, rather than the individual to solve problems • Millennials represent the rising wave of a 40-year liberal political realignment • Someday, their “Prophet” children will rebel against them • Prescriptive • Be Obi-wan to their Luke Skywalker • Treat them as rule-followers • Paternalistic management style • Let them work in teams

  27. US generations - birth era Postwar Boom Stagflation The Long Boom “Echo Boomers” Various GenY Gen ME: 1970-2000 SOURCE: Lifecourse Associates, from US 2000 Census data

  28. Generational ages in 2012 Silents 70-87 Plurals 0-9? Millennials 10?-30 Boomers 52-69 Xers 31-51 Millennials are where Boomers were in 1972, and Generation X was in 1986

  29. “Boomers” (1943-1960) Childhood Economic boom Children indulged Social stability Standards were loosening Core values Ideological Spiritual Judgmental, pessimistic Perfectionist Narcissistic Rebellious PROPHET

  30. “GenX” (1961-1981) • Childhood • Economic bust • Children unprotected, criticized • “Latch-key” childhood • Social instability • Standards were loosening • Core values • Pragmatism • Authenticity • “No Rules” edgy • “Whatever works”, speed • Transaction-focused • Results-focused • NOMAD

  31. GenX/Y childhood in media 1964 Children of the Damned 1967 Rosemary’s Baby 1973 The Exorcist 1974 It’s Alive! 1976 Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby 1976 The Omen 1976 Carrie • Exorcist II: The Heretic 1977 Eraserhead 1978 It Lives Again 1978 Damien—Omen II • Halloween 1979 The Brood 1980 The Children 1981 The Final Conflict 1981 Halloween II 1984 Firestarter • Children of the Corn 1988 Child’s Play There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby . . .

  32. Millennials (1982-2004) • Childhood • Economic boom • Children protected & celebrated • “Helicopter parents” make kids friends • Ultra-planned childhood • Social stability via “Lockdown” • Standards were tightening • Core values • Special • Confident, optimistic • Rules-focused • Connected • Team-players • Socially conscious • CIVIC

  33. Millennial parental generation Millennial Birth years Boomer Birth years Xer Birth years SOURCE: US Census data, rebundled by generation

  34. Millennial diversity

  35. How parents created Millennials Boomer parents in the 1980s and 1990s ceased self-discovery – and focused on their children as “very special.” Hands-off child rearing was replaced by child protection laws, “standards-based” school testing, and “no tolerance” behavior guidelines. Even “progressive” Boomer parents developed hyper protective parenting styles (Elaine Bell Kaplan, USC sociology dept.) Millennials are most often the children of immigrants, (first-generation high expectations)

  36. Helicopter parents “…Jessica Wolf is being watched.  Every homework assignment she turns in, every class she attends, every test the 15-year-old sophomore takes at Sabino High School, her mother, Tina, can simply log on to her home computer and check her daughter's academic progress….via the Tucson Unified School District's parental-access system, an online network that allows parents to track attendance and grades and e-mail teachers. At some other local schools, parents can even check what their kids buy for lunch…” SOURCE: Daniel Scarpinato, Arizona Daily Star,, 10.16.2005

  37. Millennial childhood in media • The Lion King 1994 Angels in the Outfield 1997 Liar Liar 1998 Rugrats: The Movie • Big Daddy 1999 The Iron Giant 2000 My Dog Skip • The Princess Diaries • Spy Kids 2001 Monsters, Inc. • Harry Potter 2002 Big Fat Liar 2002 About a Boy • E.T The Extra-Terrestrial 1986 Aliens 1987 Three Men and a Baby 1987 Raising Arizona 1987 Baby Boom 1989 The Little Mermaid 1989 Look Who’s Talking 1989 Parenthood 1990 Look Who’s Talking Too • Home Alone 1991 Little Man Tate • Three Men and a Little Lady 1993 Searching for Bobby Fisher They changed her diapers. She changed their lives . . .

  38. Millennial traits summarized • According to S & H, Millennials are… • SPECIAL (wizards in training) • SHELTERED (naïve about real world) • CONFIDENT (I can do anything)) • CONVENTIONAL (rules, authority have value) • TEAM-PLAYER (group most important) • PRESSURED (work, work, work…) • ACHIEVING (value society’s rewards)

  39. Millennial reproduction Teen Pregnancy, Birth and Abortion, Ages 15-19 Millennials Teen birthrate lowest in 70 years Abortion rate Comparable to 1972 SOURCE: Guttmacher Institute

  40. Millennial crime Serious Violent Crime, Age 12-17* Serious violent crimes are murders, rapes robberies, and aggravated results Millennials GTA 1 GTA 3 SOURCE: US. Department of Justice ·Bureau of Justice Statistics,US DOJ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

  41. School Shootings Grade/High School Shootings, 1992-2004 Millennials SOURCE: National School Safety Center Report,

  42. School violence Total faculty, student, staff violent deaths With student homicide and suicides ages 5-18 at school Student Millennials Faculty Staff SOURCE: National Center for Educational Statistics

  43. Drug use by generations Boomers Xers Millennials

  44. Millennial role models Who did Millennial Tweens Trust in 2001? SOURCE: ZOOM and Applied Research & Consulting LLC 2001 survey of nearly 10,000 kids aged 9-13 for PBS

  45. Millennial test scores SAT Scores of College-Bound Seniors – 1967-2006 Millennials SOURCE: College Board 2006 Report

  46. Millennial volunteerism Youth volunteer activity, 1976-2004

  47. Millennial religion & politics Religion and Politics (2002) Percent Support SOURCE: UC Berkeley Survey Research Center as part of the center's Public Agendas and Citizen Engagement Survey (PACES) project, 2002

  48. Millennial house of worship

  49. Millennial voting Voter Turnout, Presidential Elections 1964-2008 Elder Midlife Youth Boomers Percent Turnout Xers Millennials SOURCE: US Census, Historical Election Data

  50. Voting by generation Presidential Election Turnout, Rebundled by Generation, 1964-2008 Percent Turnout SOURCE: US Census, Historical Election Data