Generation X

lost generation

Generation X (Gen X) is the generation born after the Western post–World War II baby boom. Birth dates range from early 1960’s to early 1980’s. The Population Reference Bureau, a demographic research organization based in Washington, D.C., cited Generation X birth years as falling more specifically between the years of 1965-1982. The term “Generation X” was coined by the Magnum photographer Robert Capa in the early 1950s. Describing his intention, Capa said ‘We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with’. The term was popularized by Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. GenX was also referred to as the “baby bust” generation because of the major decline in birth rates. According to authors and demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe, there are approximately 88.5 million Generation Xers.

GenXers born during 70’s grew up into their teenage years during the introduction of major digital technologies, such as Apple’s & PCs, start of the video game ear, cable TV and the internet. GenXers have been shaped by events ranging from post-JFK assassination culture, Reagan presidential terms, 84 summer Olympics, Challenger & Chernobly disasters, Berlin Wall/Cold War ending, Bush presidential terms, Clinton & economic boom, death of Princess Diana, introduction of AIDS, War on Drugs, Persian Gulf war & dot-com bubble, bust, and re-formation.

Generation X World View

*In the preface to Generation X Goes Global: Mapping a Youth Culture in Motion, a collection of global essays, Professor Christine Henseler summarizes it as “a generation whose worldview is based on change, on the need to combat corruption, dictatorships, abuse, AIDS, a generation in search of human dignity and individual freedom, the need for stability, love, tolerance, and human rights for all.” They want to work for more long term change through their economic, media, social and consumer actions, instead of counting on their “leaders”.

Films About Generation X
Many films in American cinema were made about GenXers, exploring characters that were more interested in philosophizing, than starting a family and traditional career. GenXers Film teens dealt with school bullying, violence, drug use, peer pressure, broken and dysfunctional families. This is the first generation that is starting to exhibit greater diversity in race, class, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, paving the way for what the extreme diversity displayed with Millenials and Plurals.

Generation X Education and Finances
The U.S. Census Bureau cites Generation X as highly educated, statistically holding the highest education levels when looking at current age groups: U.S. Census Bureau, in their 2009 Statistical Abstract. However in real dollars, this generation’s men made less (by 12%) than their fathers had at that same age in 1974, thus reversing a historical trend. Incomes are barely keeping pace with inflation. But seeing so many GenXers women entered the workforce, the two income GenX family was able to juggle the bills.

Although Generation X has been seen as apathetic and hopeless and lost, there are different points of view stating that GenXers are really an articulate, highly educated and active group. In 2008, Details magazine editor-at-large Jeff Gordinier released his book X Saves the World. One author, and professor at the University of Toronto, David Foot, divides Generation X into two groups in his book Boom Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift: Generation X, born between 1960 and 1966; and the “Bust Generation”, born between 1967 and 1979. In his opinion, the Baby Boomer generation that had children complicated the job market for the upcoming Generation X.

Many Generation Xers still appears to struggle with mortgages, college debt, and consequences from an lack of direction in their early adulthood, despite their intelligence and heart for change. They got caught in a very turbulent and confusing time during their formative years, not to mention the difficult economic shifts.