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Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Z: Who Names Generations?

By Dora Mekouar All About America explores American culture, politics, trends, history, ideals and places of interest. What’s in a name? People born approximately between 1946 to 1964 have been dubbed Baby Boomers because of the sharp increase in birth rates after World War II. Millennials, now between the ages of 28 and 43, got their name because the oldest members of this generation became adults at the turn of the millennium. Social analyst and demographer Mark McCrindle isn’t a fan of either moniker. “A label that lasts for the best part of a century per generation, yet defines them at a particular point early in their life, is not particularly helpful,” McCrindle says. “Now in 2024, that shift into the millennium is more a footnote in their history,

By Dora Mekouar

All About America explores American culture, politics, trends, history, ideals and places of interest.

What’s in a name?

People born approximately between 1946 to 1964 have been dubbed Baby Boomers because of the sharp increase in birth rates after World War II. Millennials, now between the ages of 28 and 43, got their name because the oldest members of this generation became adults at the turn of the millennium.

Social analyst and demographer Mark McCrindle isn’t a fan of either moniker.

“A label that lasts for the best part of a century per generation, yet defines them at a particular point early in their life, is not particularly helpful,” McCrindle says. “Now in 2024, that shift into the millennium is more a footnote in their history, rather than the defining characteristic. So that’s the problem with labels that are given at a particular point in time.”

McCrindle knows a thing or two about generation labels. He’s credited with naming the generation that’s being born now. Meet Gen Alpha, whose mothers will give birth to the youngest, and last, members of this group this year.

“Names that are blank pages are the best sort of names, because they’re not ladened with values already,” he says. “It worked with Generation X, worked with Generation Z. And, I think, more important than the name that we give a generation is the name it makes for itself.”

There is no official group in charge of naming generations, but theorists Neil Howe and William Strauss were among the first to name the different generations in their 1991 book, “Generations.” They are credited with naming the Millennials.

“We thought that an upbeat name would be good because of the changing way they were being raised. They would be the first to graduate high school in the year 2000, so the name millennial instantly came to mind,” Howe told NPR in 2014.

Canadian author Douglas Coupland gets the credit for coining, or at least popularizing, the term Gen X — in reference to people born between 1965 and 1980 — in his 1991 book, “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.”

Gen Z is thought to have gotten its name for being two generations after Gen X.

Photo: Gen Z is thought to have gotten its name because it came after Gen X and Millennials, a generation some tried to label as Gen Y. (Photo: Voanews)

McCrindle and his associates conducted a survey to see what the generation after Gen Z (generally born from 1995 to 2009) should be called. Many thought that the kids of millennials, those born between 2010 and 2024, should get a label that’s associated with technology, like i-Gen or Digital Gen.

McCrindle disagreed.

“This was the first generation truly growing up digital from the youngest age and a global generation amidst uncertain times. We’re not going back to the start,” he says. “This is the beginning of a whole new reality and, therefore, I wanted to move away from that idea and I just put forward the concept of ‘let’s go with scientific naming,’ which is using the Greek alphabet.”

In accordance with the Greek alphabet model, the generation born between 2025 and 2040 will be known as Gen Beta, followed by Gens Gamma and Delta.

The last Gen Alphas are being born in 2024. (Photo: Voanews)

How does McCrindle feel about getting credit for naming an entire generation?

“Generational analysis has moved from something that might have been perceived by some to be pop culture stuff, to something that’s a serious field in sociology,” he says. “I’m glad that a solid name has stuck and something that allows a bit more structure, sequentiality, rigor, and borrows from that scientific approach.”

So, although we cannot predict the future, the experts have been able to put a name on it.

“We can have the labels, the years of birth, and I think that’s an important way of planning for the future and seeing the future,” McCrindle says.

Original article: Voanews


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