Pew solves the mystery by defining Millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996.
One of society’s most pervasive mysteries has been solved at last: Who is really a Millennial?
While the Baby Boomers (anyone born between 1946-1964) have been clearly defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Xers, Millennials and the rising post-Millennial class have all lived in a generational gray area. While the Nielsen Media Research has flagged Millennials as being born early as 1977, the Harvard Center pushed their earliest birth dates to as late as 1984.
Well, our long-running identity crisis is over at last, with the Pew Research Center announcing on Thursday that, “Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22-37 in 2018) will be considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward will be part of a new generation.”
The think tank noted it has been analyzing trends and attitudes in the men and women who have come of age in the new millennium for more than a decade, and realized it is about time to set a cut-off date between the first generation of digital natives, and the rising generation, sometimes called Generation Z (although Pew says it’s “too early to give them a name”), that is just turning 21 this year as the oldest Millennials move into their late 30s.
Their working definition of Millennials being born between 1981 and 1996 is a 16-year span equivalent to Generation X before it (those born between 1965 and 1980), and it also revolves centrally around the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “Most Millennials were between the ages of 5 and 20 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the nation, and many were old enough to comprehend the historical significance of that moment, while most post-Millennials have little or no memory of the event,” the Pew report states.
The historic 2008 election of President Barack Obama is another watershed moment in Millennials’ lives. “Most Millennials were between 12 and 27 during the 2008 election, where the force of the youth vote became part of the political conversation and helped elect the first black president,” Pew continues, noting that while Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in U.S. history, the men and women under 21 coming after them are even more diverse.
Defining generations: Starting today, Pew Research Center will define Millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996. We will consider those born from 1997 onward as part of a new, post-Millennial generation. https://t.co/omBZjbpufH
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) March 1, 2018
Millennials have also been influenced by entering the job market during the Recession — which has led to marrying and moving out of their parents’ homes later, as well as getting walloped with crisis levels of student debt — and coming of age during the internet and social media explosion thanks to the new ubiquity of smartphones, while Gen Xers were raised during the computer revolution. The next generation will be the first fully raised in the “always on” tech environment.
This could be a useful tool in giving marketers a better idea of whom they’re targeting. After all, Millennials have overtaken the Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, and have hit their prime spending years.
It also justifies the men and women born between 1977 and 1980 who’ve been sniffing, “I am not a Millennial!” for the past decade, as the age group has been incorrectly labeled as being lazy, entitled, coddled and financially irresponsible. In fact, research shows millennials are not afraid to ask for a raise; they’re upping their retirement savings; they spend on experiences instead of just more stuff; and they have the least credit card debt of any other age group.
They also don’t like being defined by “labels,” but oh, well.
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