What are the correct birth years for Gen Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers?

Below is a high-level overview of each generation’s birth years to help you lead generational conversations. If you’re born near the edge of a generation, you are a “Cusper.” This is actually an advantage! Scroll down and you’ll see why.

It’s always helpful to start a generational conversation with an overview of the generations—I do this in my keynotes— because it helps people gain a sense of each generation and how they fit together. Often, people are surprised by some of the generational birth years.

  • Boomers: 1946–1964
  • Gen X: 1965–1976
  • Millennials: 1977–1995
  • Gen Z: 1996–2015

CGK studies all four generations as part of our behavioral and trends research

Using research to explore generations, including your own, helps you to understand your worldview as well as lead, manage, market, sell, and build trust and community across generations. I hope you enjoy learning more about each generation below.

Important Note: Generations are not boxes that each of us neatly fit inside. Instead, generations are powerful clues you can use to faster connect with and influence people of different ages. This is true with people older, younger, and even your own age.

Generation Z Characteristics

Gen Z, also known as iGen, Centennials, etc., starts with those born in approximately 1996. The oldest members of this generation are now entering their later mid-20s.

Gen Z is the fastest emerging generation of employees, consumers, and trendsetters. While the ending birth year for Gen Z is hotly debated—because the youngest members of Gen Z are still very young—we anticipate that the end of Gen Z will be somewhere around 2015.

Gen Z has come of age with numerous technologies and events shaping their worldview, including:

  • YouTube for hosting and watching videos on demand (2005)
  • Amazon, selling virtually everything
  • Smartphones and especially the iPhone (2007)
  • The first African-American President of the United States (2008)
  • Uber (2009) and the larger sharing economy
  • United Kingdom voting to leave the EU — particularly in Europe (2017)
  • A legion of new influencer-celebrities fueled by social media

Read Top 10 Gen Z FAQs

Generation X Characteristics

Generation X was born between approximately 1965 to 1976. They came of age in the midst of skyrocketing divorce rates in the U.S., a new trend of both parents working, and the birth of personal computing and personal technology devices, such as the Commodore64, Atari, and Walkman.

Gen X witnessed the start of MTV (1981) and was influenced by popular high school movies, such as Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.

In addition, Gen X—particularly in the U.S.—came of age during key events, including:

  • The beginning of the AIDS epidemic
  • Crack epidemic
  • Iran-Contra affair
  • Energy crisis

Gen X has proven to be excellent leaders and founded many of today’s most influential tech companies, including Google and Dell.

While far too often, Gen X is not talked about enough, they are a key component of my generational keynote presentations. I share how Gen X is actually the glue that holds everything together within many workforces, and they are at a key moment in both life-stage and leadership roles. Gen X is already taking over senior leadership roles, a trend which will only accelerate.

Generations Around the World

The descriptions above provide you a high-level introduction to the different generations. Our research at The Center for Generational Kinetics goes much deeper into the underlying drivers, decision-making processes, communication and work styles, and consumer patterns of each generation. We also look at how and why they continue to evolve over time.

In terms of our keynote speaking and global research, it’s very important to note that we recognize the same generation can be very different around the world. You can’t just pick up what is true in the U.S. and apply it in other geographies, such as Asia or Europe.

We make sure that wherever I am speaking, the data and insights we present are specific to the geography and cultural norms of the people in attendance. Recognizing and exploring the impact of geography on generations is very important for driving conversation and results around the world.

Millennial Characteristics

Millennials, also known as Gen Y, Echo Boomers, and Digital Natives, were born from approximately 1977 to 1995. However, if you were born anywhere from 1977 to 1980 you are a Cusper, which means you can have characteristics of both Millennials and Gen X. This is an advantage because it makes you empathetic to both generations.

Millennials came of age during a time of rapid technological emergence: mobile phones, the internet, e-mail, digital photos, and much more.

Here are a few other key influencers:

  • Columbine school shooting (1999)
  • Y2k (2000)
  • Terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001
  • Facebook’s birth and the early adoption of social media (2004)
  • The Great Recession (2008)

In many countries, including the U.S., Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce and marketplace. Millennials are finally entering their wealth accumulation phase and starting families.

Read Top 10 Millennial FAQs

Baby Boomer Characteristics

Baby Boomers were born from approximately 1946 to 1964. A tidal wave of births created the appropriately named Baby Boomer generation, as they literally represent a boom in the birth rate.

This massive generation came of age in the aftermath of WWII, during a time of economic expansion that included the creation of the first suburbs. But it’s important to note that Baby Boomers do not remember WWII.

Baby Boomers also came of age during a time of massive social change. Key events that influenced Baby Boomers as they came of age include:

  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Cold War
  • Counter-culture of the 1960s
  • Vietnam War

Baby Boomers are known for their work ethic and work style, as well as the impact they’ve had on leadership in organizations. They are also the parents of Millennials!

In my keynote presentation Crossing the Generational Divide, I talk about Baby Boomers and how they continue to impact industries, boards, and society. While Baby Boomers are retiring every day, the generation as a whole will continue to have tremendous influence for years and years to come.

Unlock the Power of Generations

You’ve likely seen generational differences.

So how do you lead, manage, market, sell, and influence across them? In my presentations, from keynote speeches to full-day workshops, I share a whole new way to view and engage with each generation.

I challenge the generational myths and stereotypes that divide us and share the generational data and specific solutions that bring us together. This is my passion—and why I’ve received over 1,000 standing ovations. I truly love this work.

Would you like a customized keynote, half-day, or full-day presentation that gives you a new way to engage each generation? Email Emily to request a little info or to check my availability. I’d enjoy working with you to ignite excitement, trust, and new results with each generation.

Whether your audience includes Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, or all four(!), they will leave inspired with brand new insights and practical actions they can use right away.

Thank you for what you do to bridge generations!

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