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Generation Years Chart | 20th to 21st Century Generations 


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The generation years chart and timeline describe the seven recent demographic cohorts stretching way back to the 20th Century. The generations are categorized in such a way they bring together people born in the same block years and share similar characteristics in parenting, cultural trends, social/economic well-being, and technology. Technology only became a point of reference starting with the Millennial generation. It is the core point of reference today with the younger generations Z and Alpha.

The block years for the different generations have always fluctuated between 13 to 23 years.

The timeline starts with the Greatest Generation which was born early in the 20th Century and culminates with the Alpha cohort, born entirely in the 21st Century.

The United States, Europe and the rest of the developed world have documented demographic cohorts for many decades. Developing countries only become part of the wave as a result of globalization and the expansive world of technology.

Generation Years Chart

The chart of generations below indicates the birth years and ages of the generation years as of 2020. The block-years column sums up the total number of years between the 1st to the last birth for each generation.

Generations1st birthLast birthOldest in 2020Youngest in 2020Block years
Greatest Generation19011924119 9623
Silent Generation19251945957520
Baby Boomer19461964745618
Generation X19651980554015
Generation Y19811995392514
Generation Z19962009241113
Generation Alpha2010202510115

Generation Years Timeline

Below are the descriptions of the generation cohorts listed above:

1. The Greatest Generation : (1901- 1924)

The Greatest Generation cohort was the first in the chart of generations to be documented at the start of the 20th Century. It brought together a demographic group of people born between 1901 and 1924.

Tom Brokaw coined the name for this group, a title that became popular after he published a book he called The Greatest Generation.

Those born during this period went through World War I (1914) and World War II (1940), and the Great Depression of 1927-1939. They were considered great because they showed remarkable determination and perseverance during the war years and the Great Depression. They had a passion and willingness to fight for their country because they believed it was the right thing to do.

Ronald Reagan was born during the Greatest Generation years
A Pixabay image of Ronald Reagan who was born during the Greatest Generation years

Ronald Reagan (1911) and John F Kennedy (1917) are two famous personalities born during the Greatest generation years.

2. The Silent Generation : (1925 – 1945)

This generation was born between 1925 and 1945, just after WWI and through WWII. The products of the Silent Generation years said very little and preferred to work. This was attributed to the firm parenting style which was popular around that time. They were nurtured to be seen rather than heard. It is no wonder they were loyal to their masters.

The name Silent Generation was coined by Time Magazine, in a 1951 article titled The Younger Generation. The article slammed this group for lacking ambition and drive. It was branded unimaginative, cautious and withdrawn. The Great Depression which lasted from 1929 to 1939 and the Dust Bowl, which devastated farmlands in the 30s perhaps contributed to their conditions.

Warren Buffet (1930), Malcolm X (1925), Marilyn Monroe (1926), Harry Belafonte (1927), and Mohammed Ali (1941), are some of the famous personalities born during this generation years.

3. The Baby Boomer Generation : (1946 – 1964)

The Baby Boomer generation years fell between 1946 and 1964, in a period full of hope in the US, in particular. The post-war years allowed people to do what they had not during the war. A sense of peace and prosperity reigned which led to young marriages and increased birthrate.

This lasted for around 20 years. The bumper birth rate created a new era of consumerism as a result of the large population. This helped drive the US economy and gave birth to a new wave of rich individuals.

Apart from bumper births, other notable events such as the Vietnam War and the enaction of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 happened during these years.

Barack Obama is a Baby Boomer
A Pixabay image of Barack Obama who is a Baby Boomer

In the US alone, African-Americans make up 10 percent and Hispanics 8 percent of this demographic group. In total, Baby Boomers will make up 20 percent of the American population by 2030.

Popular personalities in this generation years are George Bush (1946), Steve Jobs (1955), Tony Blair (1953), Princess Diana (1961), Jeff Bezos (1964), Nicholas Cage (1964), Johnny Depp (63), Bill Clinton (1946), Barack Obama (1961), Donald Trump (1946), Bill Gates (1955) and George Clooney (1961).

4. Generation X : (1965 – 1980)

Also called Baby Buster generation, the X Generation reversed the baby boom trend which was the hallmark of the previous Baby Boomer generation, by registering a reduced birthrate.

The generation also groomed an increasing number of single-parent homes and continue to record higher divorce numbers than the previous generations, even to the 21st Century. They are independent-minded, informal, casual and entrepreneurial.

Following the innovation and distribution of the first lots of microcomputers in the 80s and 90s, Generation X became one of the first to interact with technology. Computers were, however, enormous, and only installed in government and research installations.

The photographer Robert Capa popularised the term Generation X which loosely meant ‘unknown’. The X generation desired, and even today, prefer not to be defined in any manner.

Mariah Carey is of the Generation X cohort
A Pixabay image of Mariah Carey born in 1940

Baby busters love TV and for this, grew up watching Friends and a host of other popular soaps on Television.

Famous personalities from this generation years: Jay Z (1969), Tiger Woods (1975), Halle Berry (1966), Julia Roberts (1967), Celine Dione (1968), and Will Smith (1968).

5. Generation Y : (1981 – 1995)

Also called Millennials, Generation Y cohort was raised up between 1981 and 1995, at a time when technology and related innovations were becoming the preferred tools for productivity. The use of the internet was also picking steam, and globalization through technology-based communication tools was taking real shape. Even today, Millennials use technology to extend their reach and to venture into global markets. They have used these to drive and shape economies around the world.

Popular figures from this era: Mark Zuckerberg (1984), Taylor Swift (1989), Christina Aguilera (1980), Nicki Minaj (1982), Rihanna (1988) and Beyoncé(1981).

6. Generation Z : (1996 – 2009)

The Generation Z years stretch between 1996 and 2009. The Z or iGen, just like the previous generation Y, has immersed itself in the world of internet and technology.  The iGeners were born right inside it and know nothing out of the tech box.

They also approach life passively in comparison to Millennials. For example, they learn to drive late and become sexually active much later in life. They also indulge in alcoholic beverages a little later than the previous generations.

This trait has led experts to liken them to the Silent generation cohort from the 1920s to 1940s.

The huge amount of information at their disposal has also affected their sense of concentration. Hence, they are always multi-tasking and have developed short attention spans. They have little or no time for serious stuff at work and school.

Popular iGeners: Baby Ariel (2000), Zendaya (1996), and Baby Kaely (2004).

7. Generation Alpha : (2010 – 2025)

Generation Alpha is the latest in the chart of generation years and one that best suits the digital native description. The Alpha cohort brings together people born between 2010 and 2025, which means a generation born entirely in the 21st Century. It replaced Generation Z, whose youngest kids were born in the first 9 years of the 21st Century.

As of 2020, the eldest Alpha child is 10 years old.

Alphas will probably be the most transformative generation ever. This is perhaps because they are born inside a world saturated with tech gadgets and are experiencing first-hand the most transformative trends in technology. It is estimated that over 2.5 million Alpha kids are delivered weekly in health facilities around the world, and their numbers will reach a whopping 2 billion as of 2025.

The first alpha kids were born in 2010, the same year the first iPad was released. The iPad kickstarted a tablet war between manufacturers, which has catapulted tablets into the life of Alphas. They are popular tools for collaborative learning, especially in the developed world.

Alpha kids are so much immersed in touchscreen devices that they hardly understand the corded and touchless phones. Their interaction with technology is however changing.

The sheer speed of advancement in artificial intelligence means that typing on a small screen is becoming old-school for them The Alpha adults will probably never use apps and cell phones the way they are used today.

Follow these links to read more about Generation Alpha cohort.

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