June 5, 2014

Generation X: America’s neglected ‘middle child’

Generation X has a gripe with pulse takers, zeitgeist keepers and population counters. We keep squeezing them out of the frame.

This overlooked generation currently ranges in age from 34 to 49, which may be one reason they’re so often missing from stories about demographic, social and political change. They’re smack in the middle innings of life, which tend to be short on drama and scant of theme.

But there are other explanations that have nothing to do with their stage of the life cycle.

Gen Xers are bookended by two much larger generations – the Baby Boomers ahead and the Millennials behind – that are strikingly different from one another. And in most of the ways we take stock of generations – their racial and ethnic makeup; their political, social and religious values; their economic and educational circumstances; their technology usage – Gen Xers are a low-slung, straight-line bridge between two noisy behemoths.

The charts below tell the tale. 

Generation X

Gen Xers' retirement fundsTo be fair, there are a few metrics that don’t fit this straightforward pattern of generational evolution. For example, over the course of their voting lives, older Gen Xers have tended to be more Republican than both older Boomers and younger Millennials. Also, Xers are more pessimistic than both of those larger generations that they’ll have enough money for their retirement – though some of that negativity is doubtless tied to the economic stresses of middle age.

Gen Xers also stand out in another way. In 2010 when Pew Research asked adults of all ages if they thought their own generation was unique, about six-in-ten Boomers and Millennials said yes. But only about half of Gen Xers said the same. And even among those who did, there was very little consensus about why they are distinctive.

One reason Xers have trouble defining their own generational persona could be that they’ve rarely been doted on by the media. By contrast, Baby Boomers have been a source of media fascination from the get-go (witness their name). And Millennials, the “everybody-gets-a-trophy” generation, have been the subject of endless stories about their racial diversity, their political and social liberalism, their voracious technology use, and their grim economic circumstances. What's unique about each US generation? Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers

Gen Xers have also gotten the short end of basic generational arithmetic. Due partly to their parents’ relatively low fertility rates, there are fewer of them (65 million) than Boomers (77 million) or Millennials (an estimated 83 million assuming a roughly 20-year age span and including those who have yet to reach adulthood).

But there’s another reason that Xers are a small generation: They’ve been deemed to span just 16 years, while most generations are credited with lasting for about 20 years. How come? No one really knows. Generational boundaries are fuzzy, arbitrary and culture-driven. Once fixed by the mysterious forces of the zeitgeist, they tend to firm up over time.

One final slight: Even their name is a retread. World War II photographer Robert Capa first coined the term Generation X in a photo essay about the young adults of the 1950s, but the label didn’t stick the first time around. It was revived thirty years later by Canadian author Douglas Coupland, whose coming of age novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, was set in Southern California.

For Xers, there’s one silver lining in all this. From everything we know about them, they’re savvy, skeptical and self-reliant; they’re not into preening or pampering, and they just might not give much of a hoot what others think of them. Or whether others think of them at all.

Paul Taylor, executive vice president for special projects at the Pew Research Center, is the author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown (Public Affairs, 2014). In other words, he’s part of the problem.

Topics: Demographics, Generations and Age, Political Attitudes and Values

  1. Photo of Paul Taylor

    is Executive Vice President of the Pew Research Center.

  2. is an associate digital producer at Pew Research Center.

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170 Comments

  1. Mike M4 weeks ago

    I think that this is a fair assumption of generation x, however I feel we are stronger in computer skills than people think.I was born in 1974 and remember my mother buying me the Odyssey instead of Atari in 1982 and it had a simple keyboard but I remember thinking what if I could type in anything I wanted to see and it would come up. That my friend was a prequel to the internet that I had as a child

    Reply
  2. Jason2 months ago

    If there is an early benchmark for Generation X as teenagers, it was the Challenger explosion in 1986; and the collapse of communism in 1989. AIDS was still a death sentence.

    Most of Generation X spent their twenties book-ended by two Bush administrations and the surreal Clinton years in between.

    We have a very strong and sleek “independent” streak in us concerning politics. A good portion of Generation X may lean one way, or another…..but most view political leaders with a very healthy dose of skepticism; as they should be viewed.

    Most of us remember when no one wore bicycle helmets. No one wore seat-belts; after Saturday-morning-cartoons were over….you went outside to play until it got dark out or “streetlights” came on. It didn’t matter if it was 20 below outside either. For those of us who came from two parent homes……we watched out mothers go back to work in the early 1980’s full-time…..and we became “latchkey” kids (parents would wake you up before they went to work……..you would dress yourself, get on the bus by yourself, deal with school….come home, unlock the door…..help set up or prep for dinner…have chores, start your homework and supervise your younger siblings…and NEVER…NEVER open the door for ANYONE); today that would probably be considered “horrific child abuse” by many social critics today 😉

    We are not about traveling in huge packs; or having some sort of “collective” attitude like the generation before and…ugh….the generation after us (perhaps having that would have actually helped us in competing for scant resources and actual media coverage )

    Impact on the world? We were handed a world (USA) where the older generation called us “slackers” while they took all the cookies, built a fence around it and kept us out; then told us we just were not working hard enough…………while spoiling the generation behind them giving them credit and “gold stars” for just showing up……..

    Who knows? :-)

    Grunge music is dated, rave culture was an excuse to do LSD………..most of Generation X just went to work, accepted at an early age that we were going to have less than our parents (and most of us don’t care). Most of us don’t need recognition, and awards……the only solid values many of us have came from our grandparents (WW II generation).

    Our Generation has a very strong and solitary feel to it, and no; we’re not a cohesive force in politics or culture……but most of us do have fulfilling lives.

    Reply
    1. Lando_Bro3 weeks ago

      What amazes me about Generation X is how we share so many common experiences, regardless of gender, race or sexuality. That blows my mind. I love what you say about Saturday morning cartoons and staying out until dark. That is so common among us, across the board. But, really everything you say is dead on. And you’re right, we just don’t care what others think about us. We just go on. Because that’s what we’ve always done. We do it through the greed of the Boomers and the whining entitlement of the Millenials. We may be called Generation X, but really, we are the Amazing Generation.

      Reply
  3. j2 months ago

    Low fertile rate. How about roe vs wad and the loss of political clout.

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  4. Bill2 months ago

    Why can’t we stop stereotyping and hating each other based on our generation, and get back to hating each other based on the old-fashioned values of race, religion and ethnicity?

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  5. Demo2 months ago

    You wrote “Gen Xers have also gotten the short end of basic generational arithmetic. Due partly to their parents’ relatively low fertility rates, there are fewer of them (65 million)”.

    However, Jon Miller at the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the University of Michigan wrote that “Generation X refers to adults born between 1961 and 1981″ and it “includes 84 million people” in the U.S. See lsay.org/GenX_Rept_Iss1.pdf

    That’s how you get to 320 million people in the U.S.

    Reply
  6. Necko2 months ago

    I’m gen x and our biggest fault is we aren’t team players since society gave us modern technology and media to grow up with, thus learned to mind our own business, therefore the individualistic streak – and low ambition to enter history as a generational game changer. I blame the fact that social internet media came too late. The only way to get gen x’ers together were cultural happenings. Raves and concerts were the only way aside from socio-political to have +10000 people synchronised to the same message. We are the generation to have replaced megalomania of the older generations with selfishness and narcissism. The consolidation of the world as we know it now a days took place but there was no “The age of Aquarius” as someone sung it any more.

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  7. Mike2 months ago

    I love this topic. Mike & The Mechanics told us, “every generation blames the one before”. Sounds reasonable but there is so much more when you start looking at the numbers and the results. I don’t particularly like assigning characteristics to certain groups but this assessment seams fair. Not all boomers are self-indulgent weenies but they often welcome it (30 Something). There are good and bad employees from all groups. That has more to do with disposition. T ur ds tend to float together. “Ignored” is probably the best description for xers. Even Reagan, the great communicator, moved our social security max back to age 67′ before most of us could vote. “Do it before they can fuss. It’ll be good for their self-reliance but better for us to fund our retirement ages at 59&64. Xer’s have never been targeted by the media or marketed to. That is an absolute truth. It’s why we have to suffer through an endless collage of classic Rock radio stations. Yeah I like and appreciate Zeppelin but I don’t own any of their albums. Why? They are on the radio 24/7! But some boomers get it. Dio said, “we’re the last in line….see how we shine!” So it’s not a brick wall. Self-reliant? You bet! It’s why we seem aloof. We really don’t care about your foybels and peccadillos but we will listen if it makes you happy. Some researchers have the busters generation starting in 58′ when the last of the boomers birthrate was really starting to tumble. Some call the last of the boomers “generation joneses”. Obviously, the lines are blurred. For sure, what worked for the boomers isn’t going to work for us. As the boomers fade away into history they will create natural deflation. All of their “stuff” comes back on the market. Homes and durable goods will stay cheap for a time. Some boomers are now buying their last car. We should enjoy cheap housing and used autos for a time. See….it’s not all bad. Maybe the most troubling number is that the highest suicide rate now belongs to make xer’s…40-44. I guess we have to take the good with the bad like everyone else.

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  8. Timbo timbo2 months ago

    does gao do anything valid?

    Reply
  9. Ericaz2 months ago

    I’m gen x and this article is stupid. We invented the grunge seen,we saw the berlin all fall,we know that patriotic feeling in our bones every time rocky knocks out that russian,then we graduated and started to acclimate. Our first election was stolen by the bush family and we all knew it was never going to be ok again. Then sept 11 happened,we watched as all the older ppl in piwer became paranoid and took away our freedoms out of fear. Our generation is so much more significant. This article is absolute bull!!!

    Reply
    1. X-mensch3 weeks ago

      1) Scene, not “seen”.
      2) First Gen-X election would have been in the Clinton years, pre-2000.
      3) Power, not “piwer”.

      Try proofreading yourself before you put stuff out there when claiming to represent an entire generation. Dont make us look worse than “they” already think we are.

      Reply
      1. T.S.3 days ago

        lol! Thank you for that reply! Sounds like a millennial trying to pretend they grew up Gen X. Clinton indeed :(

        Reply
  10. Teri G2 months ago

    I think all this age bashing is sad and senseless. There’s no need to scapegoat each other. Each generation and person on this earth makes their own mistakes. And, there’s plenty of good examples along with the bad no matter what a person’s age. We are too complex individually to be defined along such simple lines, that’s stereotyping. I’m 58, but I enjoy and respect people of all ages. I share many of the same fears and problems that younger people do. I don’t have any financial security, nor do many of my cohorts. I just hope I can work as long as I need to. If Social Security and Medicare need to be reformed so that younger people can benefit from them, then by all means let’s engage the system and try to make that happen! Good luck to you all.

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  11. Lisa3 months ago

    Context: I was born in ’67 (early Gen X) to parents born in ’48 (early boomers). Summary: Our parents had little time for us (even when they had time). We were latch-key kids who figured things out for ourselves. We aspired to the materialism of the boomers for awhile, until we realized how shallow that was (or that we really couldn’t attain it). Then we embraced living within our means. Our early boomer parents spent all of the inheritances that they received from their frugal parents; then they spent all of ours — and kept right on spending. Many of our boomer parents have as much or more debt than we do. We worked hard to get ahead, despite recessions and setbacks, yet we didn’t ‘boomerang’ back home. We just put our heads down and got things done; then, we realized that we were supposed to spend more of that productive time on self-promotion, and found ourselves being overlooked in the workplace as the younger self-proclaimed dynamos came along.

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  12. Jennifer M3 months ago

    As a GenXer, I’ve often said that listening to a Baby Boomer talk about his/her generation is like sitting next to a prom queen who crowned *herself.* But saying this out loud usually spurs the Baby Boomers to accuse you of some type of jealousy — instead of understanding that you’re actually pitying them, and cringing at their conceitedness.

    It would be refreshing to see Baby Boomers act like GenXer’s, Millennials and members of the Greatest Generation … that is to say, people. Humans with some modesty. Individuals who don’t make this strange presumption that they’re something Truly Above and Beyond Everyone Else.

    Yes, I hear you screaming about the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, etc. And we GenXer’s invented rap and HipHop, launched the age of Internet businesses, and now are WRITING the most intelligent television scripts ever seen in the history of the medium (think Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Modern Family, etc.)

    But you don’t hear us strutting around and singing “Talkin’ ’bout my generation!”

    Yes, Baby Boomers, you did great things. So does EVERY generation. (Think: Your parents facing down Nazis, winning, then coming home and quietly raising families.)

    Please try to be gracious and respectful of everyone, OK? It’s a sign of great class when you lift up the others around you rather than gushing about yourself. (That goes for your columns & essays in the mass media, too.)

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  13. lynn3 months ago

    i missed where any of the gen xers were concerned that the millenials dont consider themselves patriotic (so when we have a war…will they will bail?), nor concerned that millenials want bigger government (lean towards democratic), …when over 50% of the country wants to be “hand fed”, the other 49% wont want to pay for it….nor work for someone else to get it. the government cant give what it hasnt taken away from someone else…
    further, the boomers themselves didnt cause a social security crisis, the government did by saying we will take your money invest it (turns out unwisely) and give it back to you for less when you retire…the boomers didn’t chose to be born all together all at once….and then burden the country 60+ yrs later. the government should remember the are politicians, not bankers and investment companies. they obviously aren’t able to stick to a budget, nor invest wisely. but there, i digress…

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  14. Stacey Nicholas3 months ago

    GenXer might also be less sure about their retirement funds because they have been taking care of their parents and their children.

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  15. Sharon3 months ago

    I would add my voice to the many that GenX is really 61-80. it does span 20 years and it is the generation left behind. Always feeling late to the party… When GenX got around to buying a house the pricing were rising so fast, that you had to jump in and eat Ramen for a few years until your income matched your house price, otherwise you would be priced out of the market by Boomers. That salary didn’t come up so fast either… your Boomer boss was always saying how he/she could only spare 1-2% raises when their bonuses where eating up all that cash. Preparing for retirement? Want to perhaps purchase a second home? Don’t bother, you have been priced out of the market by the Boomers who snatched up all the property already. Now you look at the millennials coming up and you realize that even as the boomers start to die off, you still cannot get a break because you will be overrun by hordes of millennials. Don’t get me wrong I actually like the milennials much better that boomers. Boomers thought they were being advanced and better than their parents, when they were actually a total ME generation who could really give a crap about anybody else.

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    1. merchild2 months ago

      What you describe sounds like what my Mom went through, except she was an early gen x born 1957 (‘Baby Bust’), which they now include as the Boomers II, and she should really be part Gen X too instead. She has little in common with early Baby Boomers 1. I do not see why they changed the dates to later, to make Baby Boomers a larger generation than GEN X. Maybe it was for marketing, and/or so they could keep a younger insurance pool in that Baby Boomer generation to pay for the older ones as if it was for them selves too, but really not. Unlike the real Baby Boomers before 1957 my Mom also had her age which she could get social security changed to when she was even older, just like what was done to Gen X. Does anyone know why they kept changing the cut-off date of when the Baby Boomer generation ended to a later and later date?

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  16. Michael R.3 months ago

    As someone who was late boomer or Gen Jones(really hate that term), the bulk of the boomers were always beyond us and a lot of Gen X much closer to us. I went through a lot of the good stuff and the bad stuff ( those little recessions were quite real) that you did. Over time I come to have a lot of the same values as you. I’ve known you as people, people I work with, are friends with, and in the generational squeeze in the trenches with.

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    1. merfolk2 months ago

      Michael, your post is excellent and very well said. From what I know from my parents, they feel just as you do, as being more close to Gen X. My mother who explains things to me more, has said nearly exactly what you describe in regards to your position.
      I think the authors did a good job with their title, ‘Generation X: America’s neglected ‘middle child’’, and it is those Boomers II (Baby Bust Gen or Gen Jones’ or whatever they want to label you or them), that are the most neglected middle children of Gen X because, they are the Lost Children of Gen X that were wrongfully lumped in as an afterthought to the tail end of the boomers, when they should have been in Gen X where they belonged. I also want to say, that Boomers II and/or Gen X may have been the independent Latch Key Kids, but teens did bond together and I know the WE Gen started with them, because my Mom has always been so loving and kindhearted that it is amazing. Michael, please correct me if I am wrong, but despite the need to be more self-reliant, was not the generation that you and my parents were born within (or on the cusps of) actually the ‘We are the World, We are the Children’ Generation of Caring? I just want to say thanks to you lost Boomers II/Gen X, because we ‘Millennials’, (Y’s, Z’s or whatever we will be called next) do appreciate you too.

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  17. John Rambo4 months ago

    Enter the work force early 1980s, minimum was. $3.35 X 40 hrs X 4weeks – $536.00 . Apartment $575.00 a month.Baby Boomers took full advantage of this cheap labor.

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  18. byron4 months ago

    I must be x because I find the ‘generational’ obsession that’s emerged over the last 20 years to be very generational. it’s like watching a tennis match between parents and their kids.

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  19. Andy Umbo4 months ago

    As a middle years baby-boomer, I’d rather work with Millennials than Gen-Xer’s any day! Being in a situation where I managed large groups of people of various ages, when the Gen-Xer’s hit the market, it was a disaster! We used to have senior management meetings about the problems. The only generation who came to work from college with relatively little knowledge and expecting senior management level salaries and didn’t want to learn the actual job, on the job or “work their way up”. Twenty years later, three company changes, and two states away, and my middle-aged Gen-Xer’s are still my biggest problem (especially from a behavior standpoint), while the Millennials are ready to go, and just want to hold onto the job any way possible to start paying down those ridiculous college loans! Millennials have more respect for aging workers too…

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    1. John4 months ago

      As a Gen X’er, it is hard to work with self-absorbed Baby Boomers (remember the “Me” generation) and their equally insufferable Millennial offspring. Baby Boomers, such as Andy, have had the luxury of stable employment with steady wage and career advancement. They espoused these workplace behaviors (learn the job, work your way up, company over self) to Gen X’ers while they bought Harleys and globe hopped. 10 years into a Gen X’ers first job when career advancement seemed possible, Baby Boomers started selling their companies or outsourcing or “finding efficiencies” forcing many Gen X’ers into second (or third) careers. By the time we paid our dues again, the Baby Boomers started offering available management positions to their children or friends children (Millennials). It is hard to be managed by generations that are either too old to have their careers impacted by economic upheaval (Recessions of 1989, 1991, 2000, 2007) and too young to have “earned” their way into management.

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      1. Matt3 months ago

        Damn straight John, they will never get it. They have not even put it two and two together with something as simple as- Most of the ignorant Millennial generation and us (the Second Lost generation) came from them, we are the unwanted older children. These guys even forgot riding around with bumper strikers saying “I’m spending my kids inheritance” and it was the thing in the 90’s to put that on the third car or a boat or RV. That was a lot of college money they were spending on golf, RC planes, Vacation, Eating out (also the worst customer at restaurants), but they did give a lot to single mother’s of Generation X for the low cost of sex, they were having sex with our girlfriends and than having the actual brass to lecture about family values. Like I said they will never ever get it and even if they watch the mental Gymnastics as they address nothing and go straight to insults, The same damn strategy they actually employed in the 80’s when we were in grade school. They seriously manipulated and broke the will of children! And laughed about it later with each other.

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      2. Jeff3 months ago

        I totally agree with your observation, I am happy you stated these facts in a sensible manner.

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      3. Storm3 months ago

        John- yesyesyes!! Boomers expect us to stop what we are doing to help them with computers (the mils- just cam’t explain how things work- because they dont know what it was like before). and then they ask why the mils got more done- um- because I have been showing you how to attach a document to an email all day you non-retiring idiot- and the mil has been working so they did more today than me. sigh. Also we have had to switch jobs over and over because while working hard and having company loyalty and going to college worked for the boomers- helped them advance- it did literally nothing for exers. no wonder we are bitter and don’t want to work for these people we have been working our asses off for years without reward. Boomers- retire!!

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      4. Henry3 months ago

        Extremely well said, John.

        Gen Xers and Millennials will be cleaning up the Boomers’ mess for years to come.

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      5. Lauren3 months ago

        Great post – spot on!

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    2. Pinoche3 months ago

      You baby boomers are modern America’s worst generation. Baby boomers created a lot of the social problems that we have today ( drug abuse, sexual immorality, rebellion, etc). Btw, a lot of baby boomers sired the generation that you are complaining about. Millenials are the ” knock out game” generation. Millenials indulge in cyber bullying. Now marinate on that.

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    3. Mack Hess3 months ago

      As a person who is on the edge of the gen x I will say that a lot of our disdain for boomers compared to millennials is based on knowledge. My demographic didn’t vote in politicians who destroyed a system we are doomed to pay for but never will benefit from. My generation didn’t destroy the country economically just in time for what was supposed to be our prime earning years.

      I really could go on and on but I’m sure you know where I’m going on this. Boomers have doomed most gen x to service for your gain and yours alone.

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    4. Tim3 months ago

      I hate to say it, but those are almost the exact words used by my generation to describe Millennials. An unfortunate reality of being 40 something, is that 20 somethings temporarily become incredibly annoying.

      Your comment is otherwise vile.

      In any case, at least we knew how to use a computer – if we hadn’t the ’90s would have been a complete disaster.

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    5. Tim3 months ago

      “Millennials have more respect for aging workers too”

      LOOOOOL!!!!!!!

      OMG You have NO idea what you’re talking about… Maybe ask someone at Facebook about their “gray hair quota” sometime. Worse, try getting a job at a company run by a “forward thinking” Boomer, you’ll be laughed right out of the office by your own cohort, for your lack of teh tech skills.

      You people created a monster that the rest of the world is living with. On an individual level, I get along great with Millennials, because they’re culturally very similar to me, but with a slightly less cynical/angry personality, but as a generation, watch out. Because of Boomers inability to use technology, and your willingness to elevate all things Millennial, you’ve created a generation that believes they’re the only ones who “get” technology. And sadly, despite Generation X’s equal (better imho) grasp of the same tech, because we’re a quiet and self-dismissive group, we will never stand up and call them on it. We have a strong tendency not to trumpet our own capabilities, while you trumpet the abilities of your children.

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    6. minnow3 months ago

      Yeah the Bush years and the wars were not very fun for the gen xers. My mom always wondered why we were so down, she was like we didn’t have Vietnam or polio. No we dealt with HIV and Iraq and Afghanistan and we fundamentally changed the game so they won’t get the better of us ever again. I had just graduated from college when 9/11 happened. If I could turn back time I would have majored in corrupt banking instead of environmental science. There I was thinking I could make a positive impact only to realize I was already outdated and I’ve been on enough interviews for dead end jobs to know. Those millenials were able to learn from our suffering, good for them. Us gen x ers are a strong bunch though, we just have to play the long game.

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    7. Tamara3 months ago

      That is an interesting perspective. I remember going to college, graduating, and entering the workforce at a time when the baby boomers were in their mid-thirties and forties. At one point I had five part-time jobs because I couldn’t get a full-time job because the job market was full of non-retiring baby boomers. When I finally got a full-time job, one that would have normally gotten loan forgiveness, but I just missed the time allowed to apply for it. By the time the next round of loan forgiveness came around, I did not qualify because I needed to have applied within the first five years of full-time employment when the program didn’t exist. There were breaks for those born nine years ahead of me and for those who born four years after me; I get to spend the rest of my life paying one a student loan that is designed to never go away. I have worked hard for everything I have, but I sometimes wish I had been born just four years later because opportunities existed there that were never offered for my generation.

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    8. Ima Buhmer2 months ago

      Finally, the truth about this disaster of a cohort.

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    9. Jason1 month ago

      College was expensive for me as well. 70K for my MS in 1995. I had to pay my student loan back. In fact, it was paid off in January 2015 (this year)

      Pin-heads like you have been rusting above me all of my life……

      You all make it sound as if we were handed a perfect world by your generation, and we in Gen X somehow dropped the ball….

      We were never handed a ball. You tossed it over our heads and passed it to the next generation. Since I was in my early twenties, all I have been hearing is how smart, intelligent, creative, hot, sensible the generation behind me is….

      Many say they are “Exceptional”

      I say ‘Entitled’

      and 99% of them know this as well.

      Reply
  20. Tara4 months ago

    I would be one of those who genuinely does not care what others think of me or what I do. My Boomer mother is the person who taught me to choose what I love and stick with it. She taught me to like myself and that I am only one tiny speck in the universe. She taught me I owe my fellow specks kindness if I want to expect kindness in return. For all the generational bickering done online when articles like this are written, it doesn’t change we are all simply trying to live our lives.

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    1. S4 months ago

      Wonderful comment. I love the word “specks” to describe human existence.

      Reply
  21. dan e.5 months ago

    The real reason X generation ers get ignored so much is because yall look alike. Clothes , hair styles, womens make up , even shoes in most cases. Even the thought process and general opinions. Must be the music you guys grew up listening to.

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    1. Mo4 months ago

      Huh?? From what I’ve seen, those who were born after gen x don’t show any more individuality in style than gen xers – probably less, in fact. Hair, clothes, habits – I’ve seen very little variety among you. And you seem more likely to make negative comments when you don’t like someone else’s style. And as far as music goes… it seems like every other song that’s come out in recent years is “So-and-so with So-and-so featuring So-and-so”. Ho-hum.

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    2. Fred3 months ago

      Yeeaah, this is about the most ridiculous comment ever. One of the most beloved cultural memes of the ’80s was the sub-culture. People were obsessed with being individuals, to the point of it almost being damning – because if it wasn’t “you’re idea” and you lacked proficiency or depth, you risked being labelled a poser or trendy. It was one of the big changes that took place in starting in the mid-1980s when we, as adults, reexamined ourselves – which resulted in a cultural explosion. Today, almost every aspect of modern culture is a direct descendant of culture that arose in the mid ’80s and ’90s.

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    3. squire haggard2 months ago

      You’re kidding, right? Which generation-member am I describing?: Hoodie, tee shirt with ironic motif, jeans, flip-flops — the Millennial “Mao suit”; Mid-length straight hair with offset part (female), shaggy swirly gel-ly partless “style” (male. Beard optional). Blindingly white, perfectly aligned teeth.Tattoos on either, to express the distinct individuality, yet which only reinforces the sameness (there’s that irony again). And hunched over a smartphone.

      Reply
    4. Ben23 hours ago

      As was indicated in the article, the span of any generation covers a long span of defining events> And now, more than ever before. Perhaps the time frame should be shorter, but the limit would become increasingly small. So it goes. From the 100 plus comments I’ve read, it would seem to bear out the technological warp in time that occurred during the Gen X time frame. The majority of commentators seem to be on the younger end of the generation.

      Perhaps this is an over-reach, but I believe the older cohort of this generation was one, beat-down crew. I remember Viet Nam, Wartergate, the oil crisis, Miracle on Ice, and the AIDS high school graduation gift my year of 1965 (the older coots) experienced. The details are not significant; every cohort has memorable defining moments. It just doesn’t seem like we saw much on the plus side. To quote the Replacements (1985):

      We are the sons of no one
      Bastards of young
      We are the sons of no one
      Bastards of young
      The daughters and the sons

      Of course, our cohort produced the current President. He bailed us out of a Baby Boomer’s messy, messy diaper.

      Reply
  22. Parvad Asramni5 months ago

    We really are an ignored generation. We were as children and we are constantly overlooked now in the workplace. I actually respect the huge mass of millenials at my job. They have energy and new ideas – I just don’t understand why they get all the credit for the technology, lifestyle, and culture that Gen X created 20 years ago. I respect the baby boomers’ accomplishments too, but they really need to hand the keys over. No, not to a bunch of college grads in their 20’s – they need to hand the keys to us.

    Reply
    1. Jeffrey Dunnigan3 months ago

      Good Point I totally agree, Generation X created internet, websites, the boomers took it and destroyed it and the millenials are taking credit for utilizing the tools Gen X created giving Gen X no credit.

      Reply
    2. Sharon3 months ago

      I agree.. I like the milennials, pushing for what is right. Boomers have driven me nuts int he workplace for years…

      Reply
  23. Jesse6 months ago

    Stuck between two of the most selfish generations.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Spieth3 months ago

      Yep I totally agree..

      Reply
    2. Jeff3 months ago

      BINGO!

      Reply
    3. Stacey Nicholas3 months ago

      Absolutely! and really STUCK because Boomers (and some Silent Gens) won’t retire (poor planning on their economic parts) so there is no where to move up and about the time you get a shot, someone hires the “bright new face.” There is a huge reason that Gen Xers are the largest demographic group starting their own businesses.

      Reply
  24. Marie6 months ago

    Also forgot many Gen Xers grew up with the threat of the Cold War. World War III is a different animal than what we have currently – total world annihilation all at once. Who knows what that in the back of your mind creates when you are young. Perhaps this made us more nihilistic than the other two generations surrounding us. And more cynical. Remember, we’re the ‘slacker’ generation, both our parents went away to work and left us at home (this left us feeling like work wasn’t all that great after all, sucks you away from yourself and those you care about), we’re far less idealistic than Millenials. We don’t like self-absorption or lack of authenticity. We find the self promotion of those younger than us just a bit distasteful (while not being too terribly willing to admit it, it’s causing me discomfort just to write that), because it reminds us of the self-absorption of the “me” generation of those before us. However, I love my parents dearly, it was a different time.

    This survey doesn’t capture that very well – at all. Hello….author of Family Guy, Gen X. We don’t like BS. We particularly don’t like BS. You don’t find that unique from Boomers and Mills? Hmmm. Perhaps that’s why not being the center of all this ridiculous, money-making (it’s all for the ad buys and market share in the end, right? we find that machine distasteful too) generational HOOPLA doesn’t bother us all that terribly much. As I make blanket statements about everyone. I don’t like blanket statements either, including my own. So there you go.

    Reply
    1. Sue G.6 months ago

      Yes, this is the way I see it, as well. An an Xer, I agree that BS is the -worst- thing. “Show me authenticity, don’t be so full of yourself.” Spot on. Also, I would add that we want not what’s in it for us, but what’s in it for all of us?

      Reply
    2. Steve6 months ago

      Wow. I just kept reading and agreeing with you. The statement you made about work really resonated with me. I think that explains why I am uncomfortable having a traditional career. I would rather get to spend time with my son and so it has taken me a long time to find a place where I feel comfortable in the working world. I think that our generation is often happier with less. We don’t feel the need to have the biggest house or to be “internet famous.” Like you said, these are blanket statements and so I don’t favor them. But perhaps there is some truth to them.

      Reply
    3. Melissa4 months ago

      Exactly, people tend to forget boomers still hold the power, and they refuse to hand the key, they don’t trust us very much, do they?! Not that I care if they do… well that’s us, “you don’t like me? I don’t care, I don’t like you very much either!”

      Reply
    4. Mo4 months ago

      Good observations, Marie and commenters. I feel the same way.

      Reply
  25. beta=omega6 months ago

    I kind of like the name Generation X. As males were X-Men what’s cooler that that?

    Reply
  26. James Jhun6 months ago

    “Less in distinct than other generations” is a rather faulty statement. The self-awareness that comes from understanding that no generation is magically “more distinct” but rather that all of this historical “distinctness” tends to be a result of the loudness and size of the group that touts it. Take the difference between the WTO protests of the 90s and their equal counterpart in 2000s, Occupy Wall Street: one was desperately violent and the other uncommitted. The distinctness of generation X is its willingness to disconnect from pathological machinery, hence the low voting participation and increased intensity of protest (a la the Los Angeles Riots). When you wonder why the generation was cut short you are beginning to understand how we became disenfranchised. Boomers, as a financial and political cartel, do not like Xers, but they lionize Millenials for their willingness to participate in the economies which enrich them. This, in my humble opinion, is reflected anecdotally by attitudes of Boomers toward the children of their second marriages… they just like them better. We are a smaller, silenced generation because Boomers decided they’ve had enough of our rebellious ways…

    Reply
    1. Sue G.6 months ago

      Good analysis. I so agree with the assessment that we disengage from the machinery that tyrannizes us.

      Reply
    2. Evie5 months ago

      “Boomers, as a financial and political cartel, do not like Xers, but they lionize Millenials for their willingness to participate in the economies which enrich them.”

      I think you may very well be onto something there.

      Reply
    3. merchild2 months ago

      Brilliant!

      Reply
  27. Bearcubus7 months ago

    Reading between the lines of the end of your article, Paul Taylor, apparently you also think Gen X people have extremely fragile delicate-flower egos in those vulnerable moments when they’re flipping through the interwebs at work…delicate egos, perhaps like everyone else, looking at the bizarre self-marketing fetishes embarrassingly laid bare in Figure 3.2. And I suspect that Comments section here proves you right. We are all sitting, typing wounds.

    I remember when I was 12 in 1980 being blown away by how right-wing my generation was. It’s interesting how in our generation we don’t develop out of that political commitment…Another reason why we are politically and economically irrelevant. We are living in the age of patrimonial capitalism. (The reason why we’re so pessimistic about our old age is not because we’re imagining things, but because employers have been very publicly, en masse mining pensions and threatening social security our whole lives. Don’t dissimulate, Pew. You know very well what happened.) The Boomer politicians and managers helped institute it. The Millennials know it means the demise of democracy and all that that implies for most people’s life chances.

    We conservative Gen Xers only went along with it, like tools. A few live the dying dream in suburban grandiose-foyer Ticky Tackies, but by and large, we’ve all been spending our lives doing what we’re told, working like dogs, imagining ourselves as renegades in our private lives (50 Shades of Yawn), cooperatively directing our misanthropy down the social pyramid, mobilizing for nothing and hoping for little but to inherit whatever our parents deign to leave to us from their anomalous egalitarian era. No one talks about us, because our ambitions have always been small and uninspiring.

    Reply
    1. GeeGee7 months ago

      Bear …
      The following article on the decline of home ownership in America was interesting re GenX (we’re to blame). However, if you scroll down to the comments … they are even better than the article!
      One commenter notes that the technology revolution was unleashed by GenXer’s etc etc etc.
      I’m sure Bob Gates, Steve Jobs, and all the other GenXer’s that changed the world in the Reagan era of individual promise .. might agree.

      theatlantic.com/business/archive…

      Reply
    2. Sue G.6 months ago

      This comment deserves to be more than parenthetical: “The reason why we’re so pessimistic about our old age is not because we’re imagining things, but because employers have been very publicly, en masse mining pensions and threatening social security our whole lives.” This is so true. My mother, a Boomer, worked off and on throughout her life, most of the time part-time, and she is set up with a pension that is a living income. I have worked full time since I was in college, started my retirement account at the maximum level on Day One, and have very, very little to show for it. There will be no pension for me. I am not sure I will ever get to retire at all. I am not whining, I am just stating a fact.

      Reply
  28. Nate7 months ago

    One other point. I’m an Xer and a Soldier in the US Army. For all that we heard about being young and self absorbed in the 90s, this generation fought the longest wars in US history with little of the civic support our grandparents had in WWII. Soldiers of my generation just quietly rucked up and kept going back again.

    Reply
    1. GeeGee7 months ago

      Thank you !!

      Reply
    2. martianpackets5 months ago

      Well as a fellow gen-xer who graduated college with a comp sci degree in 1994 and went on to help revolutionize the world technically I am used to watching over privileged soft generation y kids get all the credit while baby boomers continue to plunder the economy and the environment. For this. .. being disabled as I am at age 47, a radical hemipelvectomy cancer survivor, I have almost nothing to show. I am a father of a 12 year old who values hard work and has self respect though. I am very proud of her.

      I digress though. Nate you have my gratitude and my full respect. Hang in there.

      Reply
    3. Kagi3 months ago

      Much respect to Nate.

      Reply
  29. Stephanie7 months ago

    As a Gen Xer, I feel like my focus at work has always been on doing the job I had at the time very well and my assumption was that my career would naturally progress from there. And now, I am frustrated by the fact that at young age, I am already getting written off.

    Opportunities for leadership are being imagined for others who are just better self-promoters. I find our generation to embody a nice balance of traits: hard working, not guided by strict hierarchy, seeing technology as A tool not THE only tool, valuing substance over style.

    I think Millennials use the word “leader” to describe themselves WAY too often and are always focused on “positioning” themselves…career advancement stuff rather than a job well done. Yes, they can multitask, but so can we! We are managing work, families, aging parents, and more. And in our careers, we are doing the work of leaders while not demanding said title.

    Reply
    1. Sue G.6 months ago

      I would much rather have an Xer above me at work than a Boomer or a Millennial for the reasons you point out.

      Reply
      1. Sharon3 months ago

        I am with you, working for boomers is for the dogs…

        Reply
    2. Steve6 months ago

      Absolutely spot on. I just graduated from college at the age of 37 and I can say that those who I was in college with were very, very self promoting. They focus on advancing their career before it even starts. Yet most of them lack the basic social skills to function in the work force. Half of my graduating classmates don’t even know how to communicate on e-mail at this point, much less how to have a one-on-one conversation with a fellow professional.

      Reply
      1. squire haggard2 months ago

        Too true. I have 2 nephews, 18 and 25. Smart and hardworking, but no sense of altruism, and would not do anything for anyone else if they couldn’t list it on a resume. Raised by boomer parents. (GenX myself).

        Reply
    3. Melissa4 months ago

      We live in a world were you absolutely need to climb the corporate ladder or disappear and to do that you must play the self promotion game millennials play so well, and we HATE self promotion… we refuse to kiss asses, we want our work to make the statement, but it’s just not enough!

      Reply
  30. GrammaKaarin8 months ago

    Actually, this is a pattern that fits right in with “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069″ by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Dynamic generation-quiet (in the trenches) generation-dynamic generation-quiet (in the trenches) generation, etc. They reviewed the literature and identified 4 generational clusters that have (and continue) to repeat in order (with the exception of the period around the Civil War): Idealists/Reactives/Civics/Adaptives/repeat. Examples: “Greatest Generation”=Civic; Silents=Adaptives; Boomers = Idealists; GenX = Reactives; Milleninals = Civic; etc.

    Reply
    1. Sue G.6 months ago

      I am an Xer and am very civic-minded. I volunteer my time in the community, give to charity, campaign for candidates I believe in, and regularly participate in dialogue about civic issues (such as I am doing at this moment). I am very opinionated about the state of things. I don’t know if I am in the minority or not.

      Reply
  31. Mike8 months ago

    Great article. I agree with many of the post below. Our generation was pushed around by the narcisistic baby boomers whoses ideals and culture smuthered us. We rebelled against their materialism and created our own culture. Grunge was our early voice and Cobain our spokesperson. We are the generation who constantly had to reinvent ourselves every time our baby boomer bosses offshore more of our jobs. We don’t quit but are modest about the progress we have made. Our goal is to leave the nation in better shape than how the baby boomers left it for us which is pretty pitiful.

    Reply
  32. Grace8 months ago

    Yeah, Gen X is so forgettable and unsung. (Note my heavy use of sarcasm…classic Gen X trait) Except pretty much everywhere you look in terms of influencers of the way modern society is shaped…there we are…and we aren’t even done yet. .

    Call us small, but mighty… our generation has been and continues to be more politically and culturally impacting than any generation since the teens/young folks of the late 50’s to mid sixties… our parents. As for boomers– we rejected their music, their values and their culture simply by developing our own. We didn’t mean to make their music obsolete–we just had our own mark to make and it stuck…Gen Y & Z seem to still be very happy with it as they don’t seem to be itching to come up with some of their own. Electing and reelecting President Clinton (our youth vote was the largest in 20 years); fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; first wave of whiz kid tech millionaires (yeah,folks the “Startup boom” is looking a lot like our Dot Com bubble) The original technology early adopters–from video games to pc’s… Millenials are simply a larger generation who; for the most part are following the many of cultural nods and societal trends we already established.

    Though we aren’t MTV kids anymore, we are as active and impactful as founders and CEO’s of tech companies as we were in the nineties/early millennium; we created two-four new genres of music Alternative and Hip HOP being the most popular. We should not have been called Gen X but Generation Pivot–Pivoting on inclusion,diversity; technological innovation and entrepreneurship volunteerism and most importantly corporate responsibility- we as consumers and young business leaders made that a “thing” for companies.

    We aren’t necessarily attention seekers–but we live lives and make statements that are influential; (think Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck etc.) Someone lableled us as disengaged and anarchists but we just are critical thinkers and sometimes uncomfortably direct. Gen X isn’t competitive in the traditional sense; because we just never did need anyone else’s validation; only our own.

    Reply
    1. Dayna7 months ago

      Hell yes. Great comment, thanks for your insight which I believe is actually sort of uplifting and pretty freakin’ accurate of Gen X. I always resigned myself to being part of the slacker/apathy generation but you’re right we paved the way for a lot of the innovation that exists now and definitely were taught to be self-reliant.

      Reply
  33. James H Lewis II9 months ago

    As an X’er I neither confirm or deny said traits! :) But I would also recommend for my fellow X’ers out there to read Generation X Abort Retry or Fail .. written by Doug Copland.

    Reply
  34. Amy9 months ago

    “We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” ― Konstantin Jireček

    Jireček’s quote is the essence of what the nomad archetype (Gen X, Lost Gen, etc.) is all about: survival and getting done what needs to be done with very little, if any, support from the generations that sandwich us. I know this view sounds extremely cynical, but it’s what I’ve experienced my entire life.

    Getting done what needs to get done with little support: latch-key kid providing free child care to younger brother, working since 15 (and having most of my pay during my teen years go to support my single-parent household), earning 2 B.A.s and an M.A. only to have my field collapse due to NCLB, the last point leading to being (un)deremployed my entire adult career, and, finally having a mother whose net worth is almost $500, 000, yet who is so obsessed with money, that I’ll be lucky to get much of an inheritance, if any.

    And you know what? At this point the only things that I want in life (and this echoes an earlier post): a job with a decent salary and a non-Boomer boss, a small house with nice yard to garden in, and a loving partner. I’ll get there by myself just like I always have, which is the essence of survival and realizing that the simple things are the best things in life. In other words, doing exactly what Paul Taylor says makes Gen X, well, Gen X: forgetting the societal fairy tales, coming up with your own (pragmatic) dreams, and not giving a care about what others think.

    Reply
  35. Hunter Phoenix9 months ago

    Thank you so much for writing this article and including the stats! Heart-breakingly wonderful… it speaks to many of my own feelings and conclusions, but I often questioned them, not wanting to be angry, bitter or sit in the middle of a pity party.
    I have a life coaching practice, and 90% of my clients have been Gen-Xers. I’ve observed the same with them. Hard working, dutiful and resilient, but a forgotten generation often times caring for both their own parents and children and dealing with the economic fallout of a debilitating financial set back.
    This has given me a fresh perspective and more tools to help them and myself. But one question remains: so where do we go from here? The fairy tales have failed, now what?
    Would welcome any comments, responses or feedback.

    Reply
    1. Sue G.6 months ago

      My advice would be to be activist. Vote. Campaign for candidates who want to support our society, small finance, infrastructure, and the environment. Fight the big companies and the governmental policies that support them.

      Reply
  36. Theodora9 months ago

    Am 48 born in 1965… born in Manhattan Raise in Bronx. I loved my childhood. I loved being apart of Hip Hop which started in the Bronx,The Fever, The Roxy’s, The Fun House, The Garage, Roller Skating in Central Park Oh and of cause Studio 55. I started my first job at the age of 14. Went to Catholic school never wanted to get married. Am going to be 49 in Oct. But, I can’t complain about my life am bless. I no longer live in NY but, because of my upbringing I could deal with anything that come my way. Lol, and I could see BS before it come my way as well. Love being a Gen X. Oh, I was one of those 7 year olds that would give you a run for you money as well LMAO…

    Reply
  37. KC9 months ago

    So, we are a 65-million stoned bridge. OK. Interesting to see how behaviors and beliefs change: sometimes we listen to our parents and sometimes we think for ourselves. I am the oldest of the Xers, having been born in 1965, literally a “child of the 60s,” but most influenced by the 80s. I’m glad to not be a Millennial – with age comes comfort and realization.

    Reply
  38. Honeygetoverit9 months ago

    BRILLIANT! Thank you so much for this article, I kept wonder why my generation never showed up anywhere! My generation grew up in the 80s and because of this, our mindset is completely different – we weren’t old enough to partake but old enough to aspire. We grew up around the “me” generation, so we want the best, but also, we want the best for others. We understand that we’re all better off when the weakest link is strong. That’s why we are by and large independent, politically speaking. It is a big mistake to ignore us. 😉

    Reply
    1. Colishia8 months ago

      Honeygetoverit well said! Thank you

      Reply
      1. john Lord7 months ago

        Actually, you’d be surprised at just how many millennials actually look up to your generation. Especially the older millennials or the ones born on the xy ” cusp.

        Reply
  39. D. Gavorski10 months ago

    Gen x & how is 72 the same as 65 not really the a lot had already changed and we are feed up with the Crappy Job outlook and our Gen. Has been in a constant state of War since we Graduated in 1990- no Real jobs nothing we get the Scrapes ax Usual for make Steak out of a Spam – Min. wage should be $ 27.00 not this B.S. nation crap – Part- Time Nation ask for $ 15.00 a hour people are freaking out like they would do what we have do – it’s all Lies & Smoke Screens- politicians are Puppets – lip Service give me a break

    Reply
    1. ella4 months ago

      The numbers for Gen X have always been in dispute. I can say that lumping in those born in early sixties with boomers is just off. The demographers that use 1960 – 1980 are more on the money for Gen X. Personally I have always considered anyone old enough to remember the civil rights struggles, the awful assassinations and Vietnam to be Boomers. I was a babe in arms during the Johnson administration and Vietnam was over by the time I was old enough to understand any of it. Plus, I was raised by hippies came of age in the 80s and grew up watching MTV. How any of that has a thing to do with growing up a “baby boomer” is beyond me. If you were born during between he Kennedy administration and the Regan administration, you are not a baby boomer. My parents were baby boomers, I’m not one.

      Reply
      1. Sharon3 months ago

        I totally agree with you… born in 61… I have never identified with boomers… always found them oppressive… I am an X’er and cannot wait for all the boomers to retire

        Reply
  40. D. Gavorski10 months ago

    I agree we were left to defend for ourselves when everyone else was whooping it up ! We all stuck together, watched each other’s backs and sucked in up. we are a respectful generation , we love to have fun .We want peace and love & to get along & not take life to literal . We are the forgotten or taken advantage of Generation .

    Reply
    1. sandy baxter10 months ago

      do you have any insight into this, or did u live it yourself?

      Reply
    2. jason8 months ago

      Right on the money my friend. You could have not said it better!

      Reply
      1. jason8 months ago

        @ D. Gavorski I meant……Im sure he does have creds for this GenX if he so much portrayed it correctly. I absolutely agree with him

        Reply
  41. sandy baxter10 months ago

    they left out the fact that almost all kids grew up on their own, while single parents had to work. they left out the fact, that we were the generation from the hippies and the drugs. it wasn’t abnormal to see your parent or parent get stoned, drunk and kids having to take care of themselves. they say that our generation x were the spoiled kids. i disagree, my kids were the spoiled ones. i don’t know if anyone else shares this experience or not. maybe it just happened to me and most of my friends. anyone share if you feel this way or not. thanks

    Reply
    1. Jason8 months ago

      You would have not said things more perfect than that. RIGHT ON!!!

      Reply
    2. Sue G.6 months ago

      Precisely.

      Reply
    3. Bob3 months ago

      Absolutely correct! We raised ourselves without the help of Boomers. We didn’t live at home till we were 30 like Millennials and we sure as hell didn’t have the promise of life time employment like the Boomers. We’re the ones that invented all the stuff the Millennials revolve their life around. In fact we made sure they would have incredible futures by giving them a whole technology market that needs an insane amount of people to keep going. However, for some reason, they refuse to go to college to get the high paying overly abundant jobs we left them in computer science and programming. I really hope we raise our Gen Z kids to be smarter, although they all seem to be allergic to every food product so who knows if any will make it to adulthood.

      Reply
    4. Fred3 months ago

      Spot on! I know a total of 4 kids who were thrown out by their parents before the age of 16 (3 boys from the same family and one from another family). I know multiple people whose parents took annual trips to Mexico to pick up cheap weed that they indulged in for the rest of the year – I even had a boss with a huge cocaine habit.

      Anyone remember “though love?” Horrible.

      Reply
  42. Peter Tharaldson10 months ago

    Actually your writing points to a much larger problem. You have contrived generational bucketing when in fact you are simply looking at slopes of behavioral change. Frankly, you have massive construct validity problems.

    Reply
    1. sandy baxter10 months ago

      u r so right, so, if you know what is going on with me or think u do, I would much appreciate you talking with me.

      Reply
  43. Walt Reap11 months ago

    interesting…

    Reply
  44. Mike11 months ago

    Pew’s tweets linking to this article characterize Gen X as fiscal conservatives and social liberals. To label an entire generation that way based on survey percentages so close to 50% (with what margin of error?) is ludicrous. But to do so to Generation X is entirely appropriate.

    Reply
    1. Joseph Gill9 months ago

      Those are the exact words I have used to explain my political leanings.

      Reply
      1. Joseph Gill9 months ago

        Actually the exact phrase I used was fiscally conservative and socially responsible.

        Reply
  45. Sean11 months ago

    The numbers make sense when you consider that older people tend to be more conservative and younger people tend to be more liberal… boomers more conservative, millennials more liberal and gen x in the middle. As a member of gen x, I can relate from a marketing perspective. Today, the media is inundated with two things: ads for medications that aging boomers use and news stories about millennials.

    Reply
  46. Melinda Lee12 months ago

    I would love to have some figures on the career success of Gen-X. From my perspective, we are being passed over for the executive level jobs. Baby Boomers are retireing much later than the previous generation and it appears that the top positions are going to go to their kids (millieniels) rather than to the Generation Xer’s who have been plugging along for years hoping to get these top level jobs.

    Reply
    1. JES311 months ago

      You are correct Melinda…..but the Boomers are ALSO BOOM-eraning back into the workforce as “senior consultants”, commanding large salaries for part-time work and thusly causing promoted Gen-Xers (like ourselves) to recieve lower salary increases……OR, we are kept at our lower level positions, doing most of the work and being indirectly supervised by these boomer consultants.

      Reply
      1. Tom11 months ago

        Let the Boomers have their senior consulting positions. Let them have their motor homes towing a “knock around” Jeep. Let them think they’re better than us. Same with the Millennials…Let them have their smartphones, their social media, their sense of generational superiority. All I want as an Xer is my wife, daughter, dog, 1200 square feet, steady enough work to support this (no title or respect necessary), peace and quiet, and a lot of space from the entities that try to tell us what to think and how to live.

        Reply
        1. Billy Boy11 months ago

          Right on brother

          Reply
        2. Derek Carr10 months ago

          Completely agree Tom

          Reply
        3. Mike8 months ago

          Amen brother

          Reply
        4. Sue G.6 months ago

          Yes.

          Reply
    2. Stacey Nicholas3 months ago

      Absolutely. There are strong numbers to indicate that Gen Xers are starting more businesses than any other generation because they can’t get ahead because Boomers won’t retire.

      Reply
  47. Eden millecchia12 months ago

    You say Xers are lost in the middle. Try being neither. I’m 50. Definitely NOT a baby boomer. And when all the fuss about GenX began I was confused because I assumed–quite rightly– that they are all younger than me. I understand that a generation is typically a 20 year span. But when you are on the cusp you don’t fit in with either.

    Try polling the 45-55 demographic and ask them where they fit. I’d also be curious to see where the 35-45 group identifies. Are they as lost as the 50 year olds are?

    What am I?

    Reply
    1. ILuvSnoopy11 months ago

      Eden millecchia, I am also 50. There is a name for those of who were born in the last five years or so of the Baby Boom generation. We are called Generation Jones. We do not fit either the Baby Boom or GenX stereotypes. Unlike the cohort of which are supposedly a part, we were not involved in Vietnam, involved in protests, or out supporting the “Make Love not War mantra.” Unlike GenX, were more likely to be brought up in a two parent family and did not experience divorce the way GenX children did. We graduated from high school in the late 70s and early 80s, moved into the work force or went to college, started our careers and families, and got on with life. I understand your sentiments. If GenX feels ignored, I guess one could say Generation Jones is confused because we have been defined as belonging to a generation of which we are fully aware we do not belong nor identify.

      Reply
      1. Val10 months ago

        I am 53, have never heard of Generation Jones and fully identify as a Baby Boomer. I never for a moment felt that I was without a generational identity. There was so much more to being a Boomer than protests and The Beatles. It was riding Banana Bikes and watching the Brady Bunch, TV Dinners and Princess Telephones. Being a young teen and borrowing my sister’s head bands and peasant blouses, going on vacations as a kid in a car with no air conditioning while road construction to connect interstate highways tortured the whole family! Albums and ’45 speed singles and not knowing how awful it would seem to the next generation to have actually had to stand up and walk to the television to change the channel or shift the rabbit ears. I am a Boomer – tail end or not!

        Reply
        1. Val10 months ago

          And Earth Shoes! LOL!

          Reply
          1. Pat6 months ago

            Thanks for the giggle Val, I do remember Earth Shoes!

    2. sandy baxter10 months ago

      just as lost

      Reply
    3. ella4 months ago

      You’re a Gen-X

      Reply
    4. Andy Umbo4 months ago

      …not to mention, all generational break-downs have this problem…I was born in 1954, which allegedly puts me smack in the middle of the baby-boomers, but I never had a high-paying long term job (altho college educated), never got a pension (always stopped a year or two before my getting to a company), and don’t have much savings as I had to live on most of it. The things Gen X, Y, and Millennials try to attribute to the baby-boomers (like ‘stealing all the money’) should really be attributed to the leading edge of the baby-boomers. There was never full employment in most mid-western cities for the mid to tail end of the baby-boomers, hence that’s what started the brain-drain to the coasts. The people that profited from baby-boomers in the market (when it came to long term, pensioned jobs), were the generations that were still working before the baby-boomers matured, right up to maybe the first 5 to 7 years of the baby-boomers; after that, it all unraveled…

      Reply
      1. merchild2 months ago

        Yes. My Mom said the Baby Boomers ended around 1955, but then they kept changing it to be later and later. The mid to late 1950’s children indeed were late-comers to the ‘Baby Boomer’ Party, (or not really ‘Baby Boomers’ at all), so I believe you. My mother who was born just before 1960 had none of the advantages that her siblings born in the 1940’s and early 1950’s did. She came of age in a culture that was already reshaped by the counter-culture revolution that she missed. Much of what they call the tail-end of baby-boomers (Boomers II) have more in common with the MTV Generation and/or Gen-X. I think you must be correct.

        Reply
  48. GJetsonPDX12 months ago

    The generational labels are marketing tools. The media ignored GenX until the earliest of us were in our late 20s — they were too busy pandering to the BBs during the 1980s. By that time, the marketers were too late, and their crude attempt at labeling was rightly met with scorn.

    Ultimately, GenX wallets weren’t big enough for marketers to pursue the matter (grunge and the dotcom boom notwithstanding). So the media-marketing industrial complex moved to Generations Y & Z (now collectively known as Millennials) to mold them instead. Millennials seem to be good kids…I don’t envy them the media glare.

    Reply
    1. Jason8 months ago

      Well Said!

      Reply
  49. lmm, Solo GenX Warrior12 months ago

    The Gen-X label, as we know it today, is the primary definition for those born roughly between 1961 and 1983. As these odd creatures grew up in a swirling jumble of punk, pollution and porno, the world was becoming anything but child friendly. These kids were already cynical adults by age 7 and left on their own to figure things out for themselves, often taking longer to get a handle on life, family and career. – lmm

    Reply
    1. Alison Siewert12 months ago

      I was not a cynical adult by age 7. Were you?

      Reply
      1. Billy Boy11 months ago

        well yes

        Reply
    2. Michane T Greene11 months ago

      So true, so true.

      Reply
    3. Doenene10 months ago

      I Agree with @GenX Warrior,
      Born in 1970, I was working by 14. Cynical, oh yeah – left to my own devices, no curfew, no rules, basically raised myself. Boundaries and some attention might have been helpful, but this trial by fire made me fiercely independent. I don’t need anyone and I am less likely to feel sorry for those who can’t seem to pull their own weight.

      Reply
    4. john Lord7 months ago

      Does this mean that 1982 is considered part of generation x?

      Reply
  50. Karly12 months ago

    Try being a member of the “Silent” generation! Talk about being sandwiched between others – in our case: Baby Boomers and the World War II folks. Our generation is small being born mostly in the depression (the real one) and the war. Soldiers came home and had their schooling paid for on the GI Bill. We had to compete with them. We went to war in Korea and couldn’t even get our war called a war – it was a “police action”. The Boomers swamped us with their size and bravado (supposed importance – brought on by salespeople lining up to sell whatever they could to such a huge population) and their “don’t trust anybody over 30.” Even today people in my generation can’t get things done for ourselves. Everyone waits on what the Boomers want. Sigh! We do exist as a generation, but I’m not sure anyone really knows us.

    Reply
    1. merchild2 months ago

      Wow! Karly, I feel for you. I am glad you spoke up about your experience too. I am learning so much from this. When they said, ‘Do not trust anybody over 30′ — That was ageism you were subjected to at such an early age. That must have been awful for you. Then, to also be a member of a so called ‘Silent Generation’ sandwiched between others! It does seem like certain patterns in history repeating themselves in cycles, doesn’t it? Best regards to you now and long life to you.

      Reply
  51. Alison Siewert12 months ago

    Strauss and Howe identify GenX as the Thirteenth Generation, those born between 1961 and 1981, which seems to me a far better generational boundary. The ‘1946-1964 = Boomers’ thing is very Boomeresque (love those cleverly tidy, palindromic year demarcations!) but it doesn’t reflect the reality of our experience as Xers. In their data-soaked chart, “The Generational Cycle in America” (Generations, foldout at p. 96) Strauss and Howe list members of this generation as including Brett Easton Ellis, Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox, Michael Lewis — all of whom are currently 50 or older. Barack Obama is an Xer, too, though he is often claimed by Boomers as one of their own.

    Perhaps like the President, those of us on the front-end Xer range carry certain ‘border traits’. But I know a great number of us whose experience really does match up to descriptions of Xers far better than to Boomers. In fact, I find it annoying to be tossed into a generation I neither identify with nor had the benefit of experiencing. As Dennis Miller said,
    “It’s no wonder Xers are angst-ridden and rudderless. They feel America’s greatness has passed. They got to the cocktail party twenty minutes too late, and all that’s left are those little wieners and a half empty bottle of Zima.”

    That’s a pretty good description of how we’ve experienced the job market, opportunities for advancement, and the general sense of American Dreaminess. Not very dreamy, and not much of a treat for us. Still, we’ve developed our own identity that is far beyond the monikers first assigned us — “Lost” and “Doofus” really don’t describe us now, if they ever did.

    Reply
    1. transition12 months ago

      This is the truth: Bush II was the epitomy of a Boomer: bravado and arrogance without much to show for it. Obama is definitely a Gen-X. He had to clean up the mess his predecessor left behind and is doing with whatever resources he can muster in a badly decayed nation.

      This is the central truth of Gen-X: we are cleaning up the mess the Boomers left behind.

      And, frankly, the notion that I am jealous of the Boomers is ludicrous. I have accomplished more in my lifetime so far than many people age 60 (as rich as many of them too).

      Reply
    2. Christopher Rose11 months ago

      I recall reading 13th Gen by Howe back in the early 90’s after hearing about it on talk radio at my third shift job. At the time I was a high school dropout with a GED. Like the description of many Gen-Xers my parents where completely self obsessed boomers. Divorced, leaving a huge pile of family wreckage. I heard somebody talking about milinieals the other day calling them the entitlement generation. I mistakenly thought they where talking about boomers! I quietly went off to college, advanced at a career boomers could not seem to grasp. (IT) Everything turned out ok. I do have retirement inesecurity/paranoia. Because the boomers blew all the social security funds yet still insist on retiring at full SS benefits. Somebody will have to take one for the team so our kids get something… Socially liberal fiscaly conservative. Voted proudly for Ross Perot back in 1992 because of the debt lol. Watched my parents generation get in a position to pay off the national debt, then blow it by rewarding themselves with tax cuts and entitlements. (after they helped ship all the jobs to china) Boomers. the REAL entitlement generation…

      Reply
  52. Christine Cavalier12 months ago

    We GenXers love to read about ourselves but the rest of you aren’t allowed to read about us! Where’s all the hype about us being “secretive” and “protective of our culture?” This may be the first GenX article I’ve read that doesn’t refer to our super duper secret society.

    I’d have loved for Pew to ask us what we think about Boomers. Seemingly, Boomers conducted the research, so I’m not surprised that question wasn’t asked.

    Reply
    1. Jason8 months ago

      Well said!

      Reply
  53. slk12 months ago

    who bought all those houses, they couldn’t afford??? and you say, they’re not being mentioned!!! thank you x!!!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Rose11 months ago

      Try boomers.

      Reply
  54. George Purcell12 months ago

    Gen-X is a 20 year generation if you (properly) assign the 1961-1964 cohorts to the group.

    Reply
    1. Albert Lazaro Vargas9 months ago

      I’m not so sure those born 61-64 can properly identify with Gen X. My bother was born during that period and he absolutely cannot relate to my experiences growing up. He is most definietly a par of the tail-end of the Boomer generation, but even then there is a world of difference between us

      Reply
  55. jen12 months ago

    This is so boring and says the same thing I’ve been reading about Generation X for a dozen years. I wish Pew would publish some real research about Generation X…

    Reply
    1. Tim3 months ago

      I wish I could bump this post to the top.

      Reply
  56. trevor12 months ago

    clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle.

    Reply
    1. Eden millecchia12 months ago

      Exactly.

      Reply
    2. Palopalito12 months ago

      Thank you, do you know how the Nintendo generation is called?

      Reply
    3. BC11 months ago

      Haha

      Reply
  57. Sinnathamby12 months ago

    The social gap between generX and Millenial is narrowing in the present contacts. While social gap between Boomer and the two other younger group is widening bigger than ever.

    Reply
    1. Bob12 months ago

      It’s never easy to share thoughts and experiences to a younger generation if they are not willing to use their minds instead of a cell phone. Communicating is always a
      challenge.

      Reply
    2. JES311 months ago

      I’d have to agree with you on this one, considering I married a Millenial and it’s a great marriage……and several of my prior relationships were with Boomers, whom I’m glad I never married.

      Reply
  58. Comment12 months ago

    Jon Miller at the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the University of Michigan wrote that “Generation X refers to adults born between 1961 and 1981″ and it “includes 84 million people” in the U.S

    Reply
    1. Comment12 months ago

      Here is the link for the Miller report lsay.org/GenX_Rept_Iss1.pdf

      Reply
  59. Comment12 months ago

    In a 2012 article for the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, George Masnick wrote that the “Census counted 82.1 million” Gen Xers in the U.S. The Harvard Center uses 1965 to 1984 to define Gen X so that Boomers, Xers and Millennials “cover equal 20-year age spans”.[14] Masnick concluded that immigration has filled in any birth year deficits during low fertility years of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    Reply
    1. Comment12 months ago

      Here is the link for the Masnick / Harvard Housing Center article:

      housingperspectives.blogspot.com…

      Reply
    2. George Purcell12 months ago

      Straus and Howe 1961-81 is still the best measurement. Not sure where the Harvard Center got their range…and being so late to the analysis see absolutely no reason to accept it.

      Reply
      1. Comment12 months ago

        The author of this article Paul Taylor quotes Neil Howe on the back of his book too!

        Reply
  60. sara-dc12 months ago

    Growing up in the 80s, I was a ‘latchkey kid’. As tough as it was I think we had it much easier than kids nowadays w/their endless need for instant gratification & social media hype attacking them every second of their lives. Call us what you will, we’re independent, a bit skeptical but hopeful and hoping to make our world a better place. Our generation faced lots of divorced parents, thus, many of my friends and I waited until much later to marry (or are still single!) as we don’t want to have make same mistakes too many times. And who doesn’t LOVE 80s music? Wouldn’t change that for the world : )

    Reply
    1. Jason8 months ago

      Very well said!

      Reply
    2. M Cason1 month ago

      my problem is, what is now referred to as “80’s music” was the last thing I was listening to in the 80’s. I was into Minor Threat, Suididal Tendencies, Operation Ivy, Meat Puppets, Minute Men, Butthole Surfers, Replacements and an odd little band from Massachaetts called Pixies.

      Reply
  61. Yvonne C. Hunnicutt12 months ago

    I’ve been saying this to anyone who listens. Biologically, I am the oldest but surely knows how it feels to be the middle…#genx

    Reply
  62. Melanie Notkin12 months ago

    Thank you for this. In fact, it’s exactly for this reason that I authored my second book, “OTHERHOOD: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness” (March 2014 – Seal Press/Penguin Canada). OTHERHOOD is the story of the women of Generation X who expected the social, economic and political equality our Baby Boomer mothers were not born with, as well as eventually find the husband and children they did have. But as Pew Research knows well, Generation X is getting married and having children later than generations before. There are assumptions made that the women are all childfree by choice, but the data shows we are no less yearning for motherhood than our mothers were. Some define us as “career women,” choosing work over love, marriage and motherhood. And yet, we must work in order to pay the rent. Even the majority of married mothers work today. And there are no so-called “career men” after all. The list of myths goes on and on… and yet among this generation of the most well-educated and financially independent women America has ever seen, many remain single and childless as we collectively head toward the end of our fertility. I’ve dubbed this misunderstood and often unacknowledged generation of women: Otherhood.

    Reply
  63. Stealers Wheel12 months ago

    ‘Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right – here I am, stuck in the middle with you…’
    And I wonder what the hell I should do…

    Reply
    1. Aaron12 months ago

      being part of early gen Y, Our group is much more open to previous generational popular culture and ideals than the ones of late gen Y and Z. Perhaps that’s due to my parents being late boomers or early Xer’s. At age 29, I feel much more a part of earlier generations identities. The Cell phone and social media in many ways actually drives gen Y apart because we interact with each other in an increasingly low face to face manner. I may be a special case being into retro culture, and not everybody in gen Y is tech savvy or a slave to technology of course. However, Gen Y’s embrace of technology may be its undoing in the social sense. The media perpetuates the in your face tech boom aimed at us as if we all think its grand when in reality a lot of us would rather have a more unplugged life closer to decades past. I feel like the 90’s was a healthy balance of tech and traditional culture and having lived through the decade and having been exited about the future of tech, I think presently, we are bombarded with too much crap. Perhaps it will all level off at some point and we’ll get sick of our plugged in life style but i doubt it.

      Reply
      1. Butterfly11 months ago

        I am truly in the middle being born 1971, Gen X’er I am! I have been amazed how our generation seems to be put down when in reality Gen X is the reason tech is so advanced; we built on/developed boomer’s computers, video games, tv’s (color), remote controls, microwave’s and other appliances. Most of All the hip hop culture….multicultural culture…I recall when this title came about; to us it was and is (to many I know) a badge of honor to be called X…due to the fact that being raised by boomers we built on their “Protest ideology”, Our protest through music (new genre’s created as well as dance), art (graffiti/ abstract etc.), clothing/hair styles, MTV, attitude (will not conform) all perceived as negative by the boomers and of course the Silent Gen. hence our label. Being brought up in the burb’s all of us were “Latchkey Kids” and it’s funny how that has molded most of us to have children later in life and we are so much more open with our children, we strive to have work/life balance if that means working third shift, part time, or flex schedules in order to be more involved and available to our pre-teens and teenagers. I found we did bare minimum in regards to education (many getting degrees in thirty’s and after) but have stressed importance of higher education with our children by explaining some of our mistakes. I have a 17, 13, and 4 year old and they are always on honor/merit roll, speak there minds, listen to 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s music mainly and dress similarly to how Gen X did (lol). My Mother (Boomer) lives with us and I have said several times “I never expected you to be such a grandmother grandmother” she has and that means to her I am doing everything wrong and I say “you boomers did such a great job at raising X’ers that now you guys want to micro-manage, it’s a bit too late”. With that being said GENERATION X is actually a strong, resourceful, creative, social, diverse, blessed crew

        Reply
        1. MJ10 months ago

          I was born in 1973 and I agree with you 100%

          Reply
        2. Jason8 months ago

          Born 73 myself. Your right on with your comments. We look at Boomers as the tail end of the last great generation, our parents. Then had to let go of the tail and raise ourselves because of divorce, alcoholism, experimenting with dip, smokes, beer, pot, then rock on to whatever. We were in a total experimental time between our parents and what we wanted to rebel against and have the RESPECT with them, as I did, but then clearly made it certain that parental conformity was not going to happen..HAHAHAHA….GOD do I love and respect my parents more and more everyday. If only we would have not been on the EXPERIMENTEL QUEST FOR X! But, we are the silent ones for sure!

          Reply
      2. merchild2 months ago

        Aaron, I was born in 1990’s, but I agree with you too. I was already doing computer-art and playing video games at the turn of the millennium, thanks to what Gen-X made.

        Reply