Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (2023)

Are the prejudices about your generation correct? That's behind Boomer, X, Y, Z and Alpha

Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (1)

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Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (2)

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There is a lot of talk about the different generations: the baby boomer generation is stubborn, Generation X is too ambitious and all those who follow want luxury and work as little as possible anyway.

And right in the middle, the question keeps popping up: who actually belongs where? We therefore take a look at the different generations, their classification and the characteristics ascribed to them. Here is the short version:

  • baby boomers:vintages between1946 and 1964
  • Generation X:vintages between1965 and 1980
  • Generation Y:vintages between1981 and 1995/96*
  • Generation Z: vintages between1996/97 and 2010/11*
  • Generation Alpha:vintages between2011/12* and 2025

* I nach What

It is important that there is no official, global classification for it. In other words, generational divides are not an exact science. Nevertheless, they serve as a tool to analyze changes – for example in opinions and attitudes – of people over the years.

Table of contents

baby boomer generationGeneration XGeneration Y/MillennialsGeneration ZGeneration Alpha

baby boomer generation

Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (3)

Are baby boomers really doing better – both than their parents and their own children?Bild:

The generation born between 1946 and 1964 has the highest birth rate in the 20th century. Within the next six years, most of the baby boomers will have left the labor market, creating a large gap and contributing significantly to the rampant shortage of skilled workers.

The post-war generation

The baby boomers were born during the post-war economic boom. They are regarded as the generation that was not shaped by world wars or major economic crises for the first time, but rather by peace movements and growth rates. Upswing - during this time this applied both to the birth rate (which only started to decline again after the birth control pill from 1965) and to the labor market, consumption and living conditions in general.

Prejudices: Conservative workaholics

In line with the upswing of the post-war years, baby boomers are said to be particularly ambitious and hard-working. The generation identifies strongly with their work, and it is no coincidence that the term "workaholic" comes from this time. There is also the prejudice that, unlike younger people, they are not very familiar with technology and the digital world - which is why people over 50 were given the name "Silver Surfer".

baby boomer: why r there holes in ur jeans? u rip those urself?

me (smart & woke): why r there holes in the ozone? u rip those urself?

— LUCA LUSH (@LUCALUSH)October 6, 2016

Baby Boomers: Why do you have holes in your jeans? did you tear them up yourself?
Me (smart & woke): Why are there holes in the ozone? did you tear them up yourself?

Especially in the course of climate change, rifts opened up between the baby boomers and younger generations. The older generation is accused of following the motto: "After me the deluge!" not doing enough to protect the climate and consistently ignoring problems that are their own fault.

The expression "OK Boomer"

In 2019, at the dawn of the Fridays for Future movement, the “OK, Boomer” meme emerged on the internet. With this reply, younger generations make fun of the prejudices of the Boomer generation, which are confirmed in their eyes and in certain situations. The saying is said to have originated on TikTok, where users responded with "OK, Boomer" to the videos of an old man who badmouthed millennials.

And what do you find? How strongly do the prejudices apply to the different generations, from 1 to 10? Vote under the individual chapters - and see what the other users think.

Generation X

People born between 1965 and 1980 belong to the so-called Generation X, also known as “Gen X” for short. The term appeared as early as the 1950s and was sometimes used to describe (photo) reports in magazines. Among other things, the letter “X” stood for a generation that cannot be described with any typical catchphrase. However, the name "Generation X" was only made famous by the Canadian author Douglas Coupland, who published a novel of the same name in 1991.

The generation "in between"

In many ways, Generation X is considered to be the “in-between generation” – hence the alternative term “sandwich generation”. For example between analogue and digital: Although the Gen X experienced the first major technical advances (e.g. commercially usable computers), they spent the first part of their lives, in contrast to the millennials who followed later, for the most part analogue.

Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (4)


Generation X is also said to be sandwiched between the Boomer generation and the Millennials, or the even younger Generation Z, when it comes to political disputes and rifts.

Prejudices: Apolitical "Generation MTV"

While progressive issues have come to the fore among Gen X youth, racism, environmental issues andequalitydiscussed in society as a whole for the first time. But the big upheavals didn't happen then: Gen X came of age at a time when it's often saidit was "a lot consumed and little protested".. Accordingly, the generation is considered to be rather apolitical and as one that doesn't care muchas long as she's fine.

Gen X was raised by Boomer parents. Since in this generation both parents were increasingly active in the labor market, Generation X is sometimes stereotyped as “neglected”. This is another reason why those born between 1965 and 1980 are sometimes referred to as "Generation MTV".

In the workforce, Gen Xers are supposed to be ambitious, just like their parents. Nevertheless, according to the prejudice, the work-life balance is a lot more important to them. Gen-Xers therefore place more value on individuality,Leisure and quality of life than the previous generation.

The theory of generations

In 1991, the Americans William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote the book Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069. Her work shaped the theory of the different generations. Strauss and Howe trawled through centuries of human history to find a pattern of cycles. Their hypothesis - put simply: Human history repeats itself in four cycles:
-Crisis(a war, depression, or other era of destruction)
-Hoch(Recovery from this crisis; unity and prosperity that follows a flight from death and destruction)
-awakening(Individuals begin to rebel against institutions, becoming increasingly egocentric and less community-oriented)
-decay(a full-blown rebellion against institutions that are weakened and distrusted)

In these phases of human history, the theory goes, generations take on traits and personalities appropriate to their time.

Generation Y/Millennials

Millennials are people who were born between 1981 and the mid-90s, i.e. who grew up around the turn of the millennium.

More crises, more awareness

Compared to previous generations, Millennials grew up with more uncertainty and instability. The reasons: rampages, terrorist attacks, economic crises and the growing importance of the climate crisis. Accordingly, Generation Y is considered to be more political, but also more thoughtful than the previous generation.

Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (5)

Image: twitter

She is also often stressed: the pressure felt is much higher today,write the authors of a large study from Great Britain. The triggers therefore include the pressure to be successful and, in particular, comparing yourself to others. Compared to previous generations, millennials, mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries, also have significantly more trouble putting money asideand being able to afford certain things.

“It seems that alongside flexibility, fairness and tolerance – all touted as strengths of this generation – millennials want capitalism, which they believe has worked so well for previous generations, to fulfill its promise to them.”

Millennials are also the first generation to grow up mostly digital. It is therefore considered to be globally networked and tech-savvy.

Prejudices: «Harry Potter»-loving meaning seekers

A common misconception: Millennials question a lot and areconstantly searching for the meaning of life– that’s another reason why they are called «Generation Y (Why?)». They are therefore considered to be particularly demanding on the labor market: self-confident and striving for a good work-life balance, a job must therefore offer a lot for a millennial. The goal is also to find a job with «meaning» and «value».

Self-realization is the top priority for Generation Y; she tries things and breaks them off again when it just doesn't fit - that's at least another part of the Generation Y drawer.

Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (6)


Oh yes, another stubborn prejudice: all millennials love «Harry Potter».

Generation Z

There is not (yet) a clear definition of the age groups. The polling institute Pew Research Center defines Generation Z as people born between 1997 and 2012.

Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (7)

For Generation Z, their free time is particularly important.Image: DPA/keystone

Vigilant and committed

Born around the 2000s, Gene Zettlers have witnessed many global events. This is said to have led to a sense of vigilance and caution regarding her future. Generation Z people are therefore more committed to corporate responsibility, environmental issues and politics - based onGreta Thunbergyou give her sometimesthe nickname "Generation Greta".

When dealing with minorities, Generation Z people are considered to be even more sensitive and open than Millennials. Symbolic of this: In theUSAfor example, gene taggers are significantly more likely than millennials to say they know someone who prefersto use a gender-neutral pronoun for themselves.

Criticism of the Generation Theory

With all the stereotypes that resulted, it is important to emphasize thatthat there is also a lot of criticism of the constructed generations.This is why one sometimes speaks of the “generation myth”: events not only shape certain age cohorts, but all people, so the argument goes, and the stereotyped prejudices in particular are often only insufficiently or not at all proven.

A professor of work psychology, Hannes Zacher, justifies the criticism as follows: On the one hand, the generations are not clearly demarcated even in science. On the other hand, it is not distinguished whether differences arise "due to age, due to the year of birth or due to the context in which the study took place". In his eyes, there is therefore no scientific evidence that people in generations withdifferent values, attitudes and behaviors.

The real digital natives

Generation Z is the first generation to grow up entirely with smartphones. They are considered even more tech-savvy and digitized than the millennials, people of this generation are the ultimateDigitalnatives. The internet and the world of social media have brought Gen Z closer together and connected them to a great extent.

This sometimes leads to the fact that the digital and the real world can be separated less and less clearly. A change in media consumption is also the result of this digitization: only just under a quarter of all Gene-Zettler in Europe get information abouttraditional media such as newspapers, radio or television.

Baby Boomers, X, Y, Z and now Alpha? This is how the generations got their names (8)

A child in 2070: *admits to being suicidal*
His Gen Z parents: "LMAO, me too"

Your mental and physicalHealthis more important to Generation Z than previous generations. people of this generationsuffer more from mental health problems than their predecessors, not least because of the corona pandemic. At the same time, however, Gen Z is goingmuch more open about this topicand is not afraid to discuss psychological problems publicly and to seek therapy.

Prejudices: Impatient multitaskers

Generation Z is stereotyped as particularly demanding, sometimes impatient and equipped with high expectations. Digitization and the resulting speed have already shaped the generation: People of Generation Z should have a particularly short attention span, so they can do several things at the same time without any problems.

For Generation Z, family and friends are more important than success and a career– even more so than is the case with millennials. It is also said that self-realization and personal development are among her top priorities.

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The following generation of the Zettler is the – partly unborn – Generation Alpha. The first Greek letter follows the last of our alphabet. People of this generation are born between approximately 2010 and 2025.

Since this generation hardly has theiryouthreached, it is difficult to make general statements about them at this point in time. Nevertheless, already nowmuch written about them.In 2021, for example, a controversial study painted a bleak picture of the youngest generation: TheKinder(in Germany, where the study was carried out) are unhappy, linguistically deficient and otherwise socially conspicuous.

However, the alpha study was criticized. A professor of industrial psychology said: "It is not distinguished whether differences arise due to age, due to the year of birth or due to the context in which the study took place."

Some argue that the corona crisis, like other crises in previous generations, willhave significantly shaped Generation Alpha.In addition, advancing digitization – keyword artificial intelligence – and political instability are likely to have other influencing factors on the current youngest generation.


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