Generations X and Y – what’s in a letter?

Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is an ABS data expert with huge intellect and capacity to convert demographic data into profound insights about places. He has contributed numerous blogs and consulting projects covering economic development, housing consumption and affordability, migration, fertility, ageing, role and function of ‘place’, communities of interest and more. Glenn works with over 120 councils bringing the client perspective into the development of our information products. He is a Census data expert, having worked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 10 years. If there's anything Glenn doesn't know about the Census, it's probably not worth knowing - so ask Glenn!

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8 Responses

  1. Simone says:

    Re what generation follows Z – I’ve heard the term “millenium generation” tossed around a few times, presumably referring that demographic born around the turn of the century. But I do like the term posed by a former colleague of ours Glenn – “Generation AA” – in other words, the next column following in a spreadsheet.

    Re generation X – as a proud Xer, I always thought the coin came from the early 1990s, when we all came out of uni and found we had no jobs to go into. Remember that infamous recession that we had to have? It was meant to refer to people who didn’t see they had much of a future and who listened to “Nevermind” all day.

    At least that’s what I remember reading at the time 🙂

    • Yes I’ve also heard “millenials” for that generation, but Z, if there is a Z should actually cover the turn of the millenium. Somehow I doubt the AA thing will catch on for the general public!

      According to Wikipedia Generation X was first coined in the 1950s (!!) but popularised in 1991, which would be about the time you’re talking about.

  2. Tony says:

    I had heard that ‘X’ referred to the 10th American generation since the American Revolution (1776), so that would mean Generation Y would be generation ‘XI’ etc etc. So lots of room for future generations!

    • That’s an interesting take, which I haven’t heard before! To get that number they must be taking a generation as 20 years long. An interesting take on that is that with people delaying having children for longer these days, an actual generation (within a family) is more like 30 years+. Yet at the same time we’re defining these “social” generations as about 15 yeas long, which means each generation is NOT the children of the previous, but generally the children of 2 generations previous. Anyway, happy enough for my kids to be know as Generation XII – I guess in Australia you could measure it from European Settlement in 1788 which was at a similar time.

  3. Kate says:

    As a 66 Xer I agree with Simone’s comment from the early 1990s. Also, from now, if Generations are to be defined by shared experiences, they are going to have to get shorter. My 2002 born daughter is just old enough to interview about her technological experiences yet her use of the web at 2-3 is ancient history compared to the toddlers on iPads and iPhones now.

    It will be interesting to see Xers age as we (generally speaking of course) had our children much later than boomers. How will WE redefine ageing / retirement (something the boomers are popularly said to have done) given we’ll still be supporting students into our 60s? My boomer friends – just five years older than me – have children who are in their 20s. The seven children of my three best Uni friends (plus me) are all aged 2 to 12 (yet we are already ticking the 45-54 age box on surveys while living a primary school parent’s life). Watch this census and the next and the next!

  4. Monut says:

    I’ve heard Gen Z called Gen O, for obese. The first generation in history to be fatter then their parents and with a correspondingly shorter lifespan.

  5. vadim says:

    always thought about this topic.. and especially the choice of letters.. but interestingly maybe it was by design.. after all generation z is livin at the end of the mayan calendar cycle.. hmm coincidence maybe?

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