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The tendency of each generation to look fondly on the "good old days" and to disparage the next generation is well-known. I remember reading some poem from ancient Egypt lamenting the moral failings of the younger generation, and it sounded exactly like something that might be written today.
But has the opposite ever happened? Has any generation, on average, developed a consensus that the next generation was more ethical, more worthy, or simply better than they themselves had been?
In their book, Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe (S&H) postulate that the World War II (or "Greatest") generation was seen as "better" by the two preceding generations, largely because they fought and won World War II.
The immediately preceding generation was the "Lost" generation (of FitzGerald and Hemingway), who saw themselves (and were seen by others) as a "wasted" generation. Hence, they admired the World War II generation, whom they thought were "better" by comparison.
The generation before the Lost was FDR's generation, which Strauss and Howe call the "Missionary" Generation, and what I call the "Rendezvous" (With Destiny) generation in my own book. These people (and the Lost) were the parents of the World War II generation, and "showered them with praise and reward" (S&H) for bringing about their own "Rendezvous With Destiny" (America as the world's greatest power with them on top). This "praise and reweard" was expressed in legislation such as the GI Bill, and various other "veteran's" programs enacted after the war.
New Soviet Man was a phenomena in Soviet culture and art in the post-1920 period. It finds its most heightened non-ironic form prior to the economic crisis of the mid 1950s.
Versions of the New Soviet Man myth can be seen in the film version of Dr. Zhivago. Burnt by the Sun plays with the same tropes (a daughter with soft feet into adulthood).
The ironic form is reasonably obvious. A day in the life / Gulag Archipelago give this precisely, with the Zek / Thief dynamic.
Andrle and Fitzpatrick's work on new Stalinist operatives, the class of 1936, is also useful for the ironic version.
What Research Says About the Generation Gap
Susan Adcox is a writer covering grandparenting and author of Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild.
Cara Lustik is a fact checker and copywriter.
Many grandparents grew up in an era of angry confrontations between the generations. As they ease into the role of family patriarchs and matriarchs, they may wonder: What happened to the generation gap? Is it gone or just on hiatus? Or it is still present but mostly underground?
Is Generation Z Conservative?
- A 2016 American study found that while only 18% of Millennials attended church, church attendance was 41% among Generation Z.
- Polls found eight out of ten members of Gen Z considered themselves “fiscally conservative.”
- In certain areas, Generation Z is more risk-averse than the Millennials. In 2013, 66% of teenagers had tried alcohol, down from 82% in 1991.
- A 2016 study done by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that Generation Z had lower teen pregnancy rates, less substance abuse, and higher on-time high school graduation rates compared to Millennials.
- Business Insider describes Generation Z as more conservative, more money-oriented, more entrepreneurial and pragmatic about money compared to Millennials. This make sense considering members of Generation Z have watched their parents live through the second worst economic decline in American history (starting in 2008), and have witnessed the aftermath of mass layoffs and rampant foreclosures.
- One British study conducted by global consultancy firm, The Guild, found Gen Z participants ten times more likely than Millennials to dislike tattoos and body piercings.
What we see here are some hallmarks of conservatism—risk averse when it comes to drugs and alcohol, significantly higher church attendance than the previous generation, conservative about money, prioritizing stability, pragmatic, and less interested in what is commonly associated with “fringe” behavior.
But it’s not that simple. Those who want to take these Generation Z findings and blanket them as largely conservative are ignoring other key aspects of the generation. For example:
Gen Z thinks they’ve discovered skorts: Shop the trend with 11 looks
Generation Z has grown up in an age of comfort and prosperity. As children, we were awarded participation trophies for losing the soccer game. Today, we demand trigger warnings and safe spaces on our campuses, emotionally bubble wrapping ourselves lest we be triggered.
Positioned to be history’s most educated generation and set to inherit a strong economy in 2019, our futures looked safe and predictable. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened — and the rug was pulled out from under us.
Today, Gen Z — those of us born between roughly 1997 and 2012 — is the most unemployed generation. In fact, 52 percent of 18-to-29-year-old young adults moved back in with their parents during the pandemic, breaking a record set during the Great Depression.
But while the pandemic has been devastating, it could also present a silver lining for members of my age group.
Greg Lukianoff, co-author of “The Coddling of the American Mind” and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, thinks so.
More 18-to-29-year-olds have moved back in with their parents amid the pandemic than any generation in US history. Getty Images
“There is a real possibility for a generation that has been told that they’re more fragile than they actually are and that they are less resilient than they actually are, that facing genuine scary adversity and getting through it could actually be quite empowering,” he said.
Generational resilience, in fact, has always been fortified by hardship. “Think about people returning from World War One. That gave us Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce,” Lukianoff said. “Big global disruptions have downstream effects that can seem as if people were shocked out of their slumber.”
For a generation that can’t even recall 9/11, the pandemic promises to be our defining moment, and it’s set to change us in many ways.
For one, we are suddenly reexamining our chosen educational paths and questioning the very integrity of our schooling. College enrollment has sunk a staggering 25 percent during the pandemic, with many taking gap years or dropping out entirely. Forty percent of students are now reconsidering their educational goals, and that’s not a bad thing. With the average graduate racking up $30,000 in debt pre-pandemic, a degree had become a social necessity that cost an arm and a leg. Burying yourself in debt for a degree in gender studies suddenly seems less palatable in a pandemic.
“We created a very weird luxury product that had gotten drunk on its power and prestige,” says Lukianoff.
Famous writers including (from left) F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce rose amid the turmoil of World War I. Getty Images
Forty percent of Gen Z are also rethinking their career paths. With at least 30 percent of jobs lost during the pandemic not expected to return, our futures lie in an unrecognizable economy. We have no choice but to break the achievement loop of getting the best grades to go to the best college to get the best job. Instead, we are being forced to think inventively as we forge our own paths.
Lenore Skenazy, president of Let Grow, a nonprofit promoting childhood independence, sees the upside: “Getting spun off this linear path and sent out into the stratosphere is scary but liberating. There you are, without direction, without a pre-approved generically created path. Of course you’re going to be anxious at first. ‘Who am I?’ ‘What do I do?’ But it could be the darkness before the dawn.”
With the status quo put on pause by lockdowns, Gen Z entered on a journey of self-discovery. Eighty-eight percent report expressing themselves creatively, and 58 percent say they picked up a new hobby, with fitness, cooking and writing among the most popular. And, for a generation of digital natives glued to our devices, a majority say that they will go outside, spend time with friends, and generally slow down more post-pandemic.
“Your generation had all your time optimized by adults who want to go straight to the soccer game instead of letting you just kick a ball around the basement with friends,” Skenazy told me. “But now you’re having some free, unstructured time to discover your actual interests — not for a grade, not for the college counselor, not for a résumé.”
Gen Z is embracing creativity and novelty in this new, unpredictable age. Getty Images/Cultura RF
For a generation that was coasting by, a formative life chapter has suddenly been rewritten. “Gen Z experienced an unexpected bump in the road,” says Lukianoff, “but they learned new skills, new ways of coping, new ways of thinking, new ways of occupying their minds. There are going to be great thinkers who come out of this and point to that peculiar year when they were stuck inside all day.”
Eighty-four percent of Gen Z say we’ll be changed by the pandemic, and the majority believe we’ll be better off for it. This year has forced us to ditch convention and forge new paths as we search for our place in a changing world. We are embracing novelty, creativity and ambiguity.
In short, the pandemic could leave in its wake a more resilient and more inventive Gen Z. It could even be the making of us.
Rikki Schlott is a 20-year-old college junior, studying history and politics in NYC.
The Coming Generation War
The Democrats are rapidly becoming the party of the young—and the consequences could be profound.
About the authors: Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and the managing director of Greenmantle. He is the author of 15 books, most recently The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power (Penguin). Eyck Freymann is a research analyst at Greenmantle and a Henry Scholar at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Emperor's New Brand: One Belt One Road and the Globalization of Chinese Power.
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events,” said Franklin Delano Roosevelt, accepting the Democratic nomination for president in Philadelphia in 1936. “To some generations much is given. Of others much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
In the 20th century, many sociologists and historians flirted with the idea that generational changes could explain U.S. politics. The historians Arthur Schlesinger Sr. and Jr. wrote about “cycles of American history,” arguing that, as the generations turn, American politics rotates inexorably between liberal and conservative consensus. More recently, a new generational scheme has come into vogue. William Strauss and Neil Howe’s theory of the “fourth turning” predicts a crisis and a major political realignment every 80 to 90 years. (Strauss and Howe were briefly in the spotlight in 2016 after Steve Bannon praised their work.)
We are skeptical about cyclical theories of history. We are also aware of the slipperiness of generations as categories for political analysis. As Karl Mannheim pointed out more than 90 years ago, a generation is defined not solely by its birth years but also by the principal historical experience its members shared in their youth, whatever that might be. Nevertheless, we do believe that a generational division is growing in American politics that could prove more important than the cleavages of race and class, which are the more traditional focuses of political analysis.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is often described as a radical, but the data show that her views are close to the median for her generation. The Millennials and Generation Z—that is, Americans aged 18 to 38—are generations to whom little has been given, and of whom much is expected. Young Americans are burdened by student loans and credit-card debt. They face stagnant real wages and few opportunities to build a nest egg. Millennials’ early working lives were blighted by the financial crisis and the sluggish growth that followed. In later life, absent major changes in fiscal policy, they seem unlikely to enjoy the same kind of entitlements enjoyed by current retirees.
Under different circumstances, the under-39s might conceivably have been attracted to the entitlement-cutting ideas of the Republican Tea Party (especially if those ideas had been sincere). Instead, we have witnessed a shift to the political left by young voters on nearly every policy issue, economic and cultural alike.
As a liberal graduate student and a conservative professor, we rarely see eye to eye on politics. Yet we agree that the generation war is the best frame for understanding the ways that the Democratic and Republican parties are diverging. The Democrats are rapidly becoming the party of the young, specifically the Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z (born after 1996). The Republicans are leaning ever more heavily on retirees, particularly the Silent Generation (born before 1945). In the middle are the Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980), who are slowly inching leftward, and the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), who are slowly inching to the right.
This generation-based party realignment has profound implications for the future of American politics. The generational transition will not dramatically change the median voter in the 2020 election—or even in 2024, if turnout among young voters stays close to the historical average. Yet both parties are already feeling its effects, as the dominant age cohort in each party recognizes its newfound power to choose candidates and set the policy agenda. Drawing on opinion polls and financial data, and extrapolating historical trends, we think that young voters’ rendezvous with destiny will come in the mid to late 2020s.
Today, the older generations have a lock on political power in Washington. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are members of the Silent Generation. So are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who lead in nearly every poll of the 2020 Democratic primary. President Donald Trump and the median senator and representative are Boomers. Of the nine justices on the Supreme Court, two are from the Silent Generation and six are Boomers. Yet the median American is 38—a Millennial.
Over the past year, the Democratic Party’s geriatric leadership has begun to feel the ground moving beneath its feet. For decades, moderate Democrats have kept a tight grip on the party’s platform. The 2018 midterm elections were a watershed. Boomers and members of the Silent Generation still make up more than three-fifths of the party’s House members and hold all major leadership roles. But newly elected members—including 14 Millennials and 32 Gen Xers—are driving the conversation on policy, from Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal to a recent resolution to withdraw support from Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.
The Democrats have responded by moving left. In 2013, President Barack Obama signed a bill to cut the budget deficit by slashing hundreds of billions of dollars in spending. But already in 2019, a majority of the House Democratic caucus has co-sponsored a Medicare for all bill. Even those 2020 presidential candidates characterized as moderates, such as Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, have endorsed Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, which calls for trillions of dollars of deficit-funded federal spending to transform America’s economy and its energy sector.
If Roosevelt was right, and demographics are destiny, then the Democrats are going to inherit a windfall. Ten years from now, if current population trends hold, Gen Z and Millennials together will make up a majority of the American voting-age population. Twenty years from now, by 2039, they will represent 62 percent of all eligible voters.
If the Democrats can organize these two generations into a political bloc, the consequences could be profound. Key liberal policy priorities—universal Medicare, student-loan forgiveness, immigration reform, and even some version of the Green New Deal—would stand a decent chance of becoming law. In the interim, states that are currently deep red could turn blue. A self-identifying democratic socialist could win the presidency.
By contrast, from the perspective of pure demographics, the GOP seems to be playing a losing hand. Unless Republicans can find a way to stop young voters’ slide to the left in the 2020s, the party will survive only if it can pull older voters—Boomers and the remaining members of the Silent Generation—to the right fast enough to compensate for the leftward shift of the young.
Millennials cannot be blamed for concluding that the economy is rigged against them. True, in absolute terms, Americans under 40 carry less debt than middle-aged Americans. But their debt profile is toxic. Nearly half of it comes from student loans and credit cards. In contrast, 72 percent of the debt held by Americans aged 40 to 49 is mortgage debt, which comes with tax advantages and allows debtors to build home equity as they repay their loans.
Meanwhile, the job market has turned a college education into a lose-lose choice for many young Americans. In 2016, a single year of tuition, room, and board at a private college cost 78 percent of median household income. Most American families can barely afford to send even a single child to college without loans, let alone two or three. Yet young workers without a college degree are deeply disadvantaged in the workforce, and more so all the time.
Young people then struggle to stay above water financially after they graduate. The net worth of the median Millennial household has fallen nearly 40 percent since 2007. This is not because they eat too much avocado toast it is because student loan payments consume the income that they would otherwise save. Headline unemployment figures show that the labor market is humming. It does not feel that way for Millennials, who have never experienced a “good economy.”
It is therefore unsurprising that large majorities of young voters support economic policies that Ocasio-Cortez describes as “socialist.” According to a Harvard poll, 66 percent of Gen Z supports single-payer health care. Sixty-three percent supports making public colleges and universities tuition-free. The same share supports Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to create a federal jobs guarantee. Many Gen Z voters are not yet in the workforce, but 47 percent support a “militant and powerful labor movement.” Millennial support for these policies is lower, but only slightly.
Younger voters are also far left of center on most other economic and social policies. They are particularly opposed to the Trump administration’s handling of immigration. Americans 35 and older are nearly evenly divided on the issue of President Trump’s border wall. Among voters under 35, this is not even a question. Nearly 80 percent oppose the wall.
Gen Z are not a trusting bunch. Students tend to believe that their college or university administration will do the right thing “always” or “most of the time.” Contrary to conventional wisdom, young Americans trust the military and law enforcement more than other institutions. But they take an extremely dim view of Trump, Congress, Wall Street, the press, and the social-media platforms where they get their news: Twitter and Facebook.
When the question is posed as an abstraction, most Gen Zers don’t trust the federal government either. But they favor big-government economic policies regardless because they believe that government is the only protection workers have against concentrated corporate power.
Philosophically, many Gen Zers and Millennials believe that government’s proper role should be as a force for social good. Among voting-age members of Gen Z, seven in 10 believe that the government “should do more to solve problems” and that it “has a responsibility to guarantee health care to all.”
Young voters are also far more willing than their elders to point to other countries as proof that the U.S. government isn’t measuring up. Gen Z voters are twice as likely to say that “there are other countries better than the U.S.” than that “America is the best country in the world.” As Ocasio-Cortez puts it: “My policies most closely resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden.”
Will Gen Z voters moderate their views after they enter the labor force? Probably not. Irving Kristol once joked that conservatives are liberals who have been “mugged by reality.” But the data don’t support this hypothesis. Most Millennials have already been mugged by reality: competing in the job market, paying taxes, and—for those 26 and older—taking responsibility for their own health care. In the process, they have lurched left, not right. On questions of political philosophy, Millennials are far closer to their juniors in Gen Z than to their elders in Gen X.
Even young Republicans have been caught up in this philosophical leftward drift. Gen Z Republicans are four times as likely as Silent Generation Republicans to believe that government should do more to solve problems. And only 60 percent of Gen Z Republicans approve of Trump’s job performance, while his approval among all Republicans hovers around 90 percent.
In short, Ocasio-Cortez is neither an aberration nor a radical. She is close to the political center of America’s younger generations.
Can the Democratic Party convert this tectonic shift into victory at the ballot box? Maybe, but not necessarily. As the party tries to harness its younger, more progressive wing, it faces three interrelated challenges.
The first challenge is the perennial problem of low youth turnout. Democrats have been working for decades to get more young Americans to vote. They have partnered with organizations such as Rock the Vote to make voting cool. They have invested heavily in social-media microtargeting and experimented with mobile apps that use peer pressure to drive up turnout. Yet they have never gotten youth-turnout rates high enough to swing a close presidential election in their favor. Since 1980, the percentage of eligible voters in their 20s who actually vote in presidential elections has held steady between 40 and 50 percent. For Americans aged 45 and up, voting rates have been far higher: between 65 and 75 percent.
History offers Democrats some reason for hope. The closer an American is to middle age, the more likely he or she is to vote. On the other hand, turnout rates are declining across the board, and it is the 30-to-44-year-old age bracket that has seen the steepest decline over the past four decades. Unless Democrats can show younger voters that their votes translate into policy change, they could find themselves trying to mobilize a generation that is permanently apathetic and politically disengaged.
The second challenge for Democrats is that most of the party’s traditional power brokers are older, and many of them consider the youngsters to be radicals, or at the very least political liabilities. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declined to move forward with the Green New Deal. When freshman Representative Ilhan Omar made comments about Israel policy that were widely criticized as anti-Semitic, the Democratic-controlled House voted to voice its opposition. When the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tried to block staffers from joining primary campaigns, Ocasio-Cortez told her followers to stop donating. These squabbles could easily lead to a rupture within the party.
The third challenge is that when young people organize, they do it in their own way and on their own terms. By The Washington Post’s count, between 1.4 and 2.3 million people attended the March for Our Lives in 2018, organized by school-shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida. Democratic candidates embraced the students’ cause and made gun control a central issue of the campaign. That may be one reason why early-voting turnout among 18-to-29-year-olds soared. But it was young people driving the agenda and the party following—not the other way around.
The best way for the Democrats to bridge these divides is to redouble the party’s focus on the issue that unites the coalition across generations: health care. In 2018, 41 percent of voters listed health care as their top issue. Three-quarters of them voted for the Democratic candidate.
However, on most other issues, the demographic trend lines are clear: By the mid 2020s, if a preponderance of young voters support an issue, the Democratic Party will probably have no choice but to make it central to the platform. Today, 43 percent of self-identified Democrats are either Gen Zers or Millennials. By 2024, by our calculations, this figure might rise to 50 percent. If the Democrats are not already the party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they will be soon.
Does all this mean that the Republican Party is doomed? Perhaps not. Even as younger voters have moved to the left, Republicans have been sustaining themselves by winning an ever-greater share of older voters. The Silent Generation moved hard to the right under Obama. In 2008, 38 percent of its members identified as Republicans. By 2016, that figure had risen to 48 percent. But the youngest members are now 75, and they will not be around forever. So Republicans are racing against the clock to pull nonaligned Boomers into the coalition. (It doesn’t hurt that Boomers now comprise fully two-thirds of the House Republican caucus.)
But how? Tax cuts are part of this strategy, but as voter reactions to the 2017 GOP tax bill showed, it’s a policy that yields diminishing political returns. A more important gambit was revealed in Trump’s State of the Union address in February, which drew a link between the disastrous regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and the emerging Democratic agenda. “We are born free, and we will stay free,” the president declared. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
As a small but growing number of prominent Democrats embrace the label “socialist”—or “democratic socialist,” as Sanders terms it—Republicans smell blood in the water. More than half of young voters may have a positive view of socialism, but sizable strong majorities of all age groups over 30 prefer capitalism. Indeed, voters over 65 feel more positively about capitalism today than in 2010, when Gallup began to ask the question. It remains to be seen whether the 2020 Democratic primary can normalize the word socialist. For now, however, it is clearly a liability for the Democrats in a national election.
Then comes the question of immigration. As we have seen, younger American voters strongly disagree with the Trump administration’s aggressive efforts to “build a wall” along the country’s southern border or limit legal immigration from Muslim-majority countries. This reflects the profound difference between the generations in terms of racial composition. Fully 85 percent of the Silent Generation is white only 12 percent is black or Latino. Among the members of Gen Z, by contrast, only 54 percent are white, and 38 percent are black or Latino. A far larger proportion of Gen Z also identifies as mixed-race. This divide will widen further in the coming years because of immigration, birth-rate differentials, and the fact that white Americans at age 75 have a higher life expectancy than African Americans.
Negative views of immigration are based on more than just the economic argument that newcomers are lowering the wages of native-born workers or exacerbating shortages of housing or public goods. Such views have a significant cultural component, too. Needless to say, Donald Trump specializes in whipping up the anxieties of older voters about what they see as alarmingly rapid social change.
But the Republicans need to find ways of winning over aging Boomers, many of whom are squeamish about being branded as racists. That is why it makes political sense for them to broaden the culture war, making it about much more than immigration.
According to a Marist poll last December, a sizable majority of Americans under 29 want to see the country become “more politically correct.” But voters over 30 oppose the rise of political correctness by a factor of nearly 2 to 1. This is a wedge issue that Republicans will exploit with gusto.
Republicans will be happy to note that middle-aged voters are even more strongly opposed to political correctness—and all that they believe this entails—than retirees. This trend is unlikely to reverse as the Democratic Party, under the influence of the Ocasio-Cortez cohort, brings issues of cultural and social justice closer to the core of its platform. Nor will it resolve itself as these middle-aged voters’ children become teenagers and go to college, where the culture of social justice is most explicitly disseminated.
Liberals may retort that social values can change with surprising speed. Couldn’t PC culture follow the same trajectory as interracial relationships, gay marriage, and legal marijuana—once taboo, now mainstream?
Perhaps it can, but we think it probably won’t. The gay-marriage debate was about the legal status of a minority. The PC debate is about norms of expression that affect everyone. For many older voters—and not just conservatives—campus politics has become a wholly alien parallel world of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and gender-neutral pronouns. That helps explain the president’s recent executive order to cut off federal funding to colleges that fail to uphold free speech. By taking campus politics national, the GOP will try to pry centrist Boomers and older Democrats away from a party more and more driven by the values of progressive academia.
Generational conflict likely won’t swing national elections until the 2020s, depending on turnout rates and attitudinal shifts among the Boomers. In the short run, this is probably good news for the GOP, as Democrats lurch to the left on identity-based issues that turn off older voters.
Yet Trump’s strategy of single-mindedly courting members of the Silent Generation with issues such as immigration, the evils of socialism, and campus free speech is not a long-term solution for the Republican Party. The more the GOP belittles the preferences of younger voters, the more it risks forging them into a left-wing bloc.
In the 2020s, the Silent Generation will fade from the scene. This will happen at precisely the same time that history suggests younger, more left-wing voters will start to vote at higher rates. To attract more Boomers, and some Gen X men, the GOP may paint the Democrats as radical socialists and do all it can to fan the flames of the culture war. To avoid splintering along generational lines, Democrats will likely redouble their focus on health care, a rare issue that unites the party across all age groups.
In short, America’s political future will be determined by the outcome of the generation war. Can the Millennials and Gen Z organize themselves into a cross-party political bloc? If they succeed, they can dominate U.S. politics within the next 10 years, and the Democratic Party will follow them. But if Republicans can persuade enough Boomer Democrats to switch sides by effectively turning politics into a nationwide culture war, Trumpism could prove longer lived than most commentators today assume.
Will there be any areas of common ground in a political future fueled by intergenerational warfare? Not many. But one suggests itself. Even as the rising cost of Social Security and Medicare place growing pressure on the budget, neither side will have much political incentive to fight for deficit reduction. Republicans’ dreams of privatizing Social Security and trimming Medicare died forever with Paul Ryan’s retirement last year. If anything, the two parties might collaborate to expand and shore up welfare programs, ramping up the deficit in the process. The experience of Japan suggests that, so long as interest rates remain low enough and the demand for government bonds high enough, difficult fiscal decisions can be postponed for much longer and public debt accumulated to much higher levels than conventional economics led us to expect.
When FDR spoke of a new generation’s “rendezvous with destiny,” few in his audience imagined that it would take the form of another world war. Democrats who aspire to the presidency are often tempted to talk in similar, uplifting terms. Barack Obama liked to quote Martin Luther King Jr.’s remark that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” though for Obama it became an arc of history, invariably bending his way. Few Democrats, even on the night of November 8, 2016, could conceive that the arc of history might bend toward Donald Trump.
Cyclical theories that seek to explain and predict political change in terms of generational “turns” should therefore be treated with skepticism. If, as Mannheim argued, generations are shaped by the big events of their youth, then—who knows? —a single black swan could turn today’s kids into Ocasio-Cortez’s worst nightmare: Generation T for Trump. After all, it has been asserted, to the glee of his critics, that the president’s vocabulary is that of a fourth grader. Sure, but that also means fourth graders can understand what Donald Trump says. Today’s fourth graders will be voting in 2028. Perhaps they, too, will be as “woke” as Generation Z currently is. But history teaches us not to assume that.
In 1960, Friedrich Hayek predicted in The Constitution of Liberty “that most of those who will retire at the end of the century will be dependent on the charity of the younger generation. And ultimately not morals but the fact that the young supply the police and the army will decide the issue: concentration camps for the aged unable to maintain themselves are likely to be the fate of an old generation whose income is entirely dependent on coercing the young.” It hasn’t turned out that way at all—a salutary warning that it is much easier to identify generational conflicts of interest than to anticipate correctly the political form they will take.
10th Generation Vs. 8th Generation i5 Laptop – Which is better?
If you look at the question in its perspective, the answer seems to be a foregone conclusion. Generally, the next generation of laptops is always considered better than the previous generation appliances. Thus, it is evident that the 10 th gen i5 laptop should be better than the 8 th gen model.
Let us discuss some of the crucial aspects to support our solution.
Since we do not have the other configurations with us, we have to start by making a few assumptions.
The only point of difference between both these laptops is the processor.
Every other component of the appliance is the same.
Under these circumstances, we shall differentiate between the 10 th generation Intel Core i5 CPU and the 8 th generation Ci5 processor.
There are eight 10 th generation Intel Core i5 CPUs available in laptops. Here are the critical aspects of these CPUs.
H - High-performance graphics
H - High-performance graphics
Similarly, we shall list out the 8 th generation Intel Core i5 CPUs to enable a fair comparison.
H &ndash High-Performance Graphics
A quick comparison of the different features of the various processors on display above highlights the following.
The 10 th generation CPUs have a better clock frequency, thereby ensuring that these laptops display quicker booting times. Thus, the 10 th generation laptop is a better performer than an 8 th generation laptop.
Similarly, the graphics performance of the 10 th gen appliances is much better than the 8 th gen devices.
Besides the above differences, the 10 th gen Intel Core i5 CPUs come with the following features that are not available on the corresponding 8 th gen processors.
Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+): The high-end 10 th generation Intel Core i5 laptops come with Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. This latest internet connectivity standard delivers advanced traffic management, improved latency, enhanced security, and interference avoidance.
Entertainment Hub: The 10 th gen Intel Core i5 processors allow 4K UHD video streaming without any stuttering or lag, thereby providing a revolutionary immersive visual experience.
Intel Iris Plus Graphics: The availability of Intel Iris Plus Graphics ensures an incredible and immersive visual experience and delivers the performances required for 1080p gaming.
Thunderbolt 3: Thunderbolt 3 compatibility on your laptop enhances data transfer speeds to an entirely different level. It also enables the computer to connect to 4K UHD displays.
Intel Optane Technology: This advanced technology allows for better storage memory that is fast, inexpensive, and non-volatile. Thus, you can unleash the processor&rsquos power and take the performance level to heights never attained before. If you are looking for top 10 th Gen i5 Laptops, Checkout best laptops under 50000
Other Differences between the 8 th gen and 10 th gen CPUs:
The 8 th gen Ci5 CPU is a 14nm Sky Lake CPU. Some of the 10 th gen Intel Core i5 chips are Ice Lake Chips with a 10nm process (Examples - 1035G7 and 1035G1).
The 10 th gen chips feature Sunny Cove cores that make them much faster than the 8 th gen laptops.
The Dynamic Tuning 2.0 feature present in the 10 th generation Ci5 chips enhances Turbo Boost capability. Thus, you have exceedingly fast clock speeds to improve booting performances.
The 10 th generation chips, primarily the top-end ones support LPSSR4X RAM, whereby you get nearly 50% additional memory bandwidth. Thus, you can have upgradeable RAM up to 128GB in these laptops. It is not possible in the case of the 8 th generation CPUs.
However, one should note that these differences make the 10 th generation chips more expensive than 8 th generation counterparts. Therefore, on the affordability front, the 8 th generation laptop is better. On the performance angle, it is no match for the 10 th generation appliances. Source: vsbytes.com
Standard users can opt for the 8 th generation laptop, whereas the 10 th generation appliance is the best for heavy-duty users such as video editing professionals, etc.
Millennials stand out for their technology use, but older generations also embrace digital life
Millennials have often led older Americans in their adoption and use of technology, and this largely holds true today. But there has been significant growth in tech adoption since 2012 among older generations – particularly Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
More than nine-in-ten Millennials (93% of those who turn ages 23 to 38 this year) own smartphones, compared with 90% of Gen Xers (those ages 39 to 54 this year), 68% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73) and 40% of the Silent Generation (74 to 91), according to a new analysis of a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted in early 2019.
Similarly, the vast majority of Millennials (86%) say they use social media, compared with smaller shares among older generations. While the share of Millennials who say they use social media has remained largely unchanged since 2012, the shares of Gen Xers, Boomers and Silents who use social media all have increased by at least 10 percentage points during this period.
Unlike with smartphones and social media, tablet ownership is now comparable across most generations. Today, 55% of Gen Xers, 53% of Millennials and 52% of Boomers say they own tablets. A smaller share of Silents (33%) report owning tablets.
Those in the Silent Generation also lag when it comes to having broadband service at home. Whereas most Millennials (78%), Gen Xers (78%) and Boomers (74%) say they subscribe to home broadband, fewer than half of Silents (45%) say this.
In terms of specific platforms, around three-fourths or more of both Millennials and Gen Xers now report using Facebook (84% vs. 74%, respectively). Boomers and Silents have both increased their Facebook use by double digits since 2015. In fact, the share of Silents using Facebook has nearly doubled in the past four years, from 22% to 37%.
Almost all Millennials (nearly 100%) now say they use the internet, and 19% of them are smartphone-only internet users – that is, they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet service at home. Large shares of Gen Xers (91%) and Boomers (85%) use the internet, compared with just 62% of Silents. When it comes to smartphone-only internet users, 17% of Gen Xers go online primarily via a smartphone, as do 11% of Boomers and 15% of Silents.
Baby Boomers continue to trail both Gen Xers and Millennials on most measures of technology adoption, but adoption rates for this group have been growing rapidly in recent years. For example, Boomers are now far more likely to own a smartphone than they were in 2011 (68% now vs. 25% then).
Although Boomers have been adopting a range of technologies in recent years, members of the Silent Generation are less likely to have done so. Four-in-ten Silents (40%) report owning a smartphone, and fewer (33%) indicate that they have a tablet computer or use social media (28%). Previous Pew Research Center surveys have found that the oldest adults face some unique barriers to adopting new technologies – from a lack of confidence in using new technologies to physical challenges manipulating various devices.
While generations differ in their use of various technologies, a 2018 Center survey found that younger internet users also were more likely than older Americans who use the internet to say the internet has had a positive impact on society: 73% of online Millennials said the internet has been mostly a good thing for society, compared with 63% of users in the Silent Generation.
Americans were also less positive about the societal impact of the internet last year than four years earlier. Gen Xers’ views of the internet’s impact on society declined the most in that time. In 2014, 80% of Gen X internet users believed the internet had been mostly a positive thing for society, a number that dropped to 69% in 2018. Millennial and Silent internet users were also somewhat less optimistic last year than in 2014.
Note: This is an update of a post originally published May 2, 2018, and written by Jingjing Jiang, a former research analyst focusing on internet and technology. See full topline results and methodology here.
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Has any generation generally agreed that the next generation was better? - History
Millennials may be the world’s most hated generation – at the moment. But is disdain towards youth a new dynamic? By delving into the archives, we found that older people have been griping about young people for more than 2,000 years.
Far more surprising is that, throughout the centuries, their criticisms have been remarkably similar. From complaints that the next generation are both too cautious and yet downright dangerous, too worried about the world and at the same time too self-absorbed to care, here are some of our favourites.
“Millennials are lazy and think basic tasks are beneath them.”
A generation with a huge sense of entitlement, Daily Mail, 2017
“Many [young people] were so pampered nowadays that they had forgotten that there was such a thing as walking, and they made automatically for the buses… unless they did something, the future for walking was very poor indeed.”
Scottish Rights of Way: More Young People Should Use Them, Falkirk Herald, 1951
“They’re out-of-touch hipsters who spend too much on coffee and too little on facial hair care. Many are spoiled, entitled, or both.”
A Boss’s Guide to Managing Bratty Millennials, Momzette, 2016
“Whither are the manly vigour and athletic appearance of our forefathers flown? Can these be their legitimate heirs? Surely, no a race of effeminate, self-admiring, emaciated fribbles can never have descended in a direct line from the heroes of Potiers and Agincourt. ”
Letter in Town and Country magazine republished in Paris Fashion: A Cultural History, 1771
. and, really, just awful.
“The tragic truth is that America’s millennials are a bunch of phone-addicted, selfie-obsessed, hashtagging, snapchatting, kale-munching, twerking, lazy, whining, ill-informed, politically correct, cossetted narcissists who find absolutely everything mortally offensive and believe there are 165 ways to sexually identify.”
Memo to millennials, that awful feeling you’ve got is called losing, Daily Mail, 2016
“We defy anyone who goes about with his eyes open to deny that there is, as never before, an attitude on the part of young folk which is best described as grossly thoughtless, rude, and utterly selfish.”
The Conduct of Young People, Hull Daily Mail, 1925
Artistotle contemplating the know-it-all youth of his day (Credit: Getty Images)
They think they know best…
“My huge generalities touch on… their insistence that they are right despite the overwhelming proof that suggests they are not…”
Bret Easton Ellis in ‘Generation Wuss’, Vanity Fair, 2014
“They think they know everything, and are always quite sure about it.”
Rhetoric, Aristotle, 4th Century BC
But they’re also too cautious.
“Millennials have been called the most cautious generation – the first to grow up with car seats and bike helmets, the first not allowed to walk to school or go to the playground alone.”
‘There really isn’t anything magical about it’: Why more millennials are avoiding sex, Washington Post, 2016
“It’s an irony, but so many of us are a cautious, nervous, conservative crew that some of the elders who five years ago feared that we might come trooping home full of foreign radical ideas are now afraid that the opposite might be too true, and that we could be lacking some of the old American gambling spirit and enterprise.”
The Care and Handling of a Heritage: One of the “scared-rabbit” generation reassures wild-eyed elders about future, Life, 1950
And yet too confident.
“Many of the millennials in today's workforce have more confidence than they do competence.”
Millennials: ‘Their overconfidence at work can look delusional’, Irish Independent, 2017
“[Young people] are high-minded because they have not yet been humbled by life, nor have they experienced the force of circumstances.”
Rhetoric, Aristotle, 4th Century BC
Millennials are defined by their flighty, entitled approach to work – or is that just young people in general? (Credit: Getty Images)
Their expectations are too high.
“The prevailing narrative about members of Generation Y… is that they are a fleet of job-hoppers who think they're above the grunt work of an entry-level position in other words, not the most desirable employees.”
‘The 40-hour weeks… I think it’s slowly killing you’, Irish Independent, 2017
“The traditional yearning for a benevolent employer who can provide a job for life also seems to be on the wane… In particular, they want to avoid ‘low-level jobs that aren’t keeping them intellectually challenged.’”
Meet Generation X, Financial Times, 1995
Really, they just complain too much.
“Whether it’s jobs, property, or just the sheer towering unfairness of the world, millennial complainants are everywhere, ready to give you a rundown of everything their generation has been stiffed on. In the way that we once had The Greatest Generation, we now have The Whiniest Generation. But really, the only place they’ve been short-changed compared to us Xers or even the Boomers is property.”
Crybaby millennials need to stop whinging and work hard like the rest of us, The Telegraph, 2015
“What really distinguishes this generation from those before it is that it's the first generation in American history to live so well and complain so bitterly about it.”
The Boring Twenties, Washington Post, 1993
They spend way too much money – which is bad.
“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn't buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each. We're at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day, they want travel to Europe every year.”
Australian mogul Tim Gurner on 60 Minutes Australia, 2017
“The beardless youth… does not foresee what is useful, squandering his money.”
Horace, 1st Century BC
A typical self-absorbed millennial (Credit: Alamy)
But they’re not buying houses – also bad.
“Somebody is buying houses in the United States – but it sure isn’t millennials. Just ask their parents. They’ll be the ones worrying in the kitchen about whether their little darlings will ever leave.”
Millennials aren’t buying homes right now: What if they never do?, The Guardian, 2016
“‘We want to get married, but there is nowhere we can set up a house of our own. It is either a case of waiting goodness knows how long, and we've waited all the war, or, going to live with Mary's mother.’ How often is a similar remark heard in those days, for it is the problem that young people all over the country have to face. Thousands of young fellows have come home from the war intent on setting up a home with the girl of their heart only to find that there are no homes to be had… Many men, of course, have not waited for houses, but have got married and gone into rooms or to live with relatives, but neither course can be considered very satisfactory.”
Nowhere to Set Up House, Dundee Courier, 1920
They want to live like adolescents forever.
“As more millennials delay moving out of their parents' home, getting a job and are paying their own bills, the age of adulthood has been pushed back. One expert suggests that millennials stay children for so long because they have been coddled by their parents and have had things 'too good'.”
Will they ever grow up?, Daily Mail, 2017
“A few [35-year-old friends] just now are leaving their parents’ nest. Many friends are getting married or having a baby for the first time. They aren’t switching occupations, because they have finally landed a ‘meaningful’ career – perhaps after a decade of hopscotching jobs in search of an identity. They’re doing the kinds of things our society used to expect from 25-year-olds.”
Not Ready for Middle Age at 35, Wall Street Journal, 1984
Modern technology has made them useless at decision-making…
“The endless choices millennials face have also proven paralyzing. They’re the constantly-swiping-right generation. It’s always on to the next thing.”
They can’t even: Why millennials are the ‘anxious generation’, New York Post, 2016
“They have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder. They have few heroes, no anthems, no style to call their own. They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial.”
Proceeding with Caution, Time, 2001
…as well as impossibly self-absorbed.
“…Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein demonstrates how the internet is making young people increasingly ignorant about almost everything except online video games and the narcissism of self-authored internet content… The more skilled kids become in using the tools of the digital revolution, he demonstrates, the more ignorant they become about the objective world around them.”
Digitally Addicted Kids Threaten to Return Civilisation to the Dark Ages, The Independent, 2008
“Cinemas and motor cars were blamed for a flagging interest among young people in present-day politics by ex-Provost JK Rutherford… [He] said he had been told by people in different political parties that it was almost impossible to get an audience for political meetings. There were, of course, many distractions such as the cinema…”
Young People and Politics, Kirkintilloch Herald, 1938
They’re ruining religion…
“…almost every major branch of Christianity in the United States has lost a significant number of members, Pew found, mainly because millennials are leaving the fold… The alacrity of their exodus surprises even seasoned experts."
Millennials leaving church in droves, study finds, CNN, 2015
“How to bring young people into membership of the Church was a pressing problem raised at a meeting… Sunday School teachers in the audience had found that children were apt to leave Sunday School when they had completed their day school education. They were not following on into the church.”
Why Do Young People Neglect Religion?, Shield Daily News, 1947
“The emergence of the millennial generation poses an existential threat to the future of the National Football League… Concerned about the safety of their ‘special’ children, the parents of many millennials have demonstrated a strikingly fearful reaction to a series of reports about the devastating impact playing in the NFL has had on many former players.”
Millennial generation could kill the NFL, The Christian Science Monitor, 2012
“…in youth clubs were young people who would not take part in boxing, wrestling or similar exercises which did not appeal to them. The ‘tough guy’ of the films made some appeal but when it came to something that led to physical strain or risk they would not take it.”
Young People Who Spend Too Much, Dundee Evening Telegraph, 1945
And even the written word.
“Is it just me, or are student competencies like basic writing skills in serious peril today?… Teachers have been reporting anecdotally that even compared to five years ago, many are seeing declines in vocabulary, grammar, writing, and analysis.”
Why Can’t College Students Write Anymore?, Psychology Today, 2014
“The Chairman alluding to the problem of young people and their English said his experience was that many did not seem able to express or convey to other people what they meant. They could not put their meaning into words, and found the same difficulty when it came to writing.”
Unable to Express Thoughts: Failing of Modern Young People, Gloucester Citizen, 1936
If the naysayers are to be believed, the written word has been in decline among young people for close to a century (Credit: Getty Images)
Really, it’s the fault of the parents…
“If millennials are self-absorbed little monsters who expect the world to come to them and for their parents to clean up their rooms well into their 20s, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves — especially the moms and dads among us.”
Millennials Are Selfish and Entitled, and Helicopter Parents Are to Blame, Time, 2014
“Parents themselves were often the cause of many difficulties. They frequently failed in their obvious duty to teach self-control and discipline to their own children.”
Problems of Young People, Leeds Mercury, 1938
And they’re unlike anything seen before.
“They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they're trying to take over the Establishment but because they're growing up without one.”
Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation, Time, 2013
“Probably there is no period in history in which young people have given such emphatic utterance to a tendency to reject that which is old and to wish for that which is new.”
Young People Drinking More, Portsmouth Evening News, 1936
Except that they’re not that different, after all. And they’re actually pretty OK.
“And while [millennials] vary internally as much as any age cohort, I’ve generally been struck by the disconnect between the way they’re portrayed in the media and the way they go about their business. From what I’ve seen, they work harder than my cohort did, and for less payoff. (We could say the same about ourselves, relative to Boomers.) They’re more polite than I remember my own group being at that age. Yes, they’re always checking their phones, but so are we. Most of them are juggling jobs, classes, and family obligations, along with the relationship drama that comes with that age.”
In Defence of Millennials, Inside Higher Ed, 2017
“He felt that the people who were giving that kind of charge, that sweeping condemnation, were generally out of touch with the young people… ‘I think that if we knew the boys and girls — and I am thinking particularly tonight the young people of Britain — of those modern times, we should feel that after all they are very much like ourselves. They think very much like ourselves only their expression of their thinking is a little bit different.’”
Modern Young People: ‘A Glorious Lot’, Cornishman, 1934
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The Whys and Hows of Generations Research
At the center of the Pew Research Center’s mission is a commitment to measuring public attitudes on key issues and documenting differences in attitudes between demographic and political groups.
An individual’s age is one of the most common predictors of differences in attitudes and behaviors. On issues ranging from foreign affairs to social policy, age differences in attitudes can be some of the widest and most illuminating. Age denotes two important characteristics about an individual: their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, middle-aged parent or retiree – and their membership in a cohort of individuals who were born at a similar time. The nature of age as a variable allows researchers to employ an approach known as cohort analysis to track a group of people over the course of their lives.
Age cohorts give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time they can provide a way to understand how different formative experiences interact with the life-cycle and aging process to shape people’s view of the world. While younger and older adults may differ in their views at a given moment, age cohorts allow researchers to go further and examine how today’s older adults felt about a given issue when they themselves were young, as well as to describe how the trajectory of views might differ across age cohorts.
Generations are one way to group age cohorts. A generation typically refers to groups of people born over a 15-20 year span, such as the Millennial generation, currently the youngest adult generation. Generational analysis is an important tool used by Pew Research Center and other researchers. This report aims to describe the basic approach of generational analysis at the Pew Research Center and some of the key insights it provides into understanding public attitudes and behaviors.
The Pew Research Center’s approach to generational analysis involves tracking the same groups of people on a range of issues, behaviors and characteristics. Setting the bounds of generations is a necessary step for this analysis. It is a process that may be informed by a range of factors including demographics, attitudes, historical events, popular culture, and prevailing consensus among researchers. As a result, the lines that define the generations are useful tools for analysis, but they should be thought of as guidelines, rather than hard-and-fast distinctions.
Each of the commonly-used current generations has been defined by a unique mix of factors.
The Baby Boom generation is an example of a generation that is largely delineated by demography. Its oldest members were part of the spike in fertility that began in 1946, right after the end of World War II. Its youngest members were born in 1964, shortly before a significant decline in fertility that occurred after the birth control pill first went on the market.
Other generations are less strictly defined by demography, though it plays an important role in designations including Generation X and Millennials – the two generations that followed the Baby Boomers.
Generation X describes people born from 1965 through 1980. The label overtook the first name affixed to this generation: the Baby Bust. In part, this generation is defined by the relatively low birth rates in these years compared with the Baby Boom generation that preceded them and the Millennial generation that followed them. The label for this generation was popularized by a 1991 book by Douglas Coupland titled, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.
The bounds of the Millennial generation, sometimes characterized as the “echo boom,” are also informed by demographics. This generation is largely made up of the children of the Baby Boom generation. The name for this cohort refers to those born after 1980 – the first generation to come of age in the new millennium. As this generation was first entering adulthood, some used the term Gen Y to refer to them, and its boundaries were slightly different. This is another example of how the names and spans of generations can change over time.
The Silent generation describes adults born from 1928 through 1945. Children of the Great Depression and World War II, their “Silent” label refers to their image as conformist and civic-minded. Time Magazine coined the term in a 1951 article describing the emerging generation of the time. The Silent label is not widely recognized by the public: fewer say they have heard of it than the labels for any other of the living generations. (See here for our report on generations and identity.)
The Greatest generation (those born before 1928) “saved the world” when it was young, in the memorable phrase of Ronald Reagan. This is the generation that fought and won World War II, and became the subject of a best-selling book by Tom Brokaw. Pew Research Center no longer reports current data on the Greatest generation because they now represent such a small share of the adult population (roughly 2%) that standard public opinion surveys do not yield large enough sample sizes for reporting.
An age cohort spanning 15-20 years will necessarily include a diverse assortment of people — and often there are meaningful smaller cohorts within these generations. Changes in political circumstances, societal mores and economic conditions over a period of 15-20 years can lead to people within a cohort having different formative experiences. Understanding these differences within a cohort is an essential component of generational analysis.
Life Cycle, Cohort, and Period Effects
The factors associated with generational differences can be complex and overlapping. Researchers often think about three separate effects that can produce differences in attitudes between age groups: life cycle effects (sometimes called age effects), period effects and cohort effects. 1
The first is the life cycle, or age, effect. When a life cycle effect is at play, differences between younger and older people are largely due to their respective positions in the life cycle. For example, young people are far less likely than older adults to vote and engage in politics. This may be because they are less informed about politics or feel they have less at stake in political or policy debates. As people age, they vote at higher rates and their level of political engagement rises. Millennials are less engaged in politics today than are older generations, but the same was true of Baby Boomers in their youth. Today, Boomers are among the most likely to vote and participate in politics.
The second process is a period effect. Period effects are seen when events and circumstances (for instance, wars, social movements, economic booms or busts, scientific or technological breakthroughs) as well as broader social forces (such as the growing visibility of gays and lesbians in society) simultaneously impact everyone, regardless of age. Period effects are typically thought to have lasting effects on an entire population.
An example of a period effect may be the impact of the events of the early to mid-1970s – the end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate affair – on views of government. This was a time in U.S. history that coincided with a sharp drop in public trust in government across generations. Overall trust in government has ebbed and flowed since the 1970s, but has never returned to levels seen before that period.
Another example of a lasting period effect is the shift in public views on the issue of terrorism and the priority given to homeland defense and combatting terrorism globally following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. However, other shifts in opinion following 9/11 proved to be less enduring: expressions of patriotism and unity were short-lived as the country soon entered a fractious debate over the Iraq war and deep partisan divisions on political issues soon reemerged.
Finally, there is a cohort effect. 2 Differences between generations can be the byproduct of the unique historical circumstances that members of an age cohort experience, particularly during a time when they are in the process of forming opinions. In some cases, this may be the result of a period effect an older generation experienced that subsequent generations did not (e.g., the younger generations of today did not experience the Vietnam War or other social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, because they were not yet born).
In other cases, a historical moment can have an outsize effect on members of one generation. This may be because it occurs during a key point in the life cycle, such as adolescence and young adulthood, when awareness of the wider world deepens and personal identities and value systems are being strongly shaped. The Great Depression and its aftermath had the effect of helping shape a cohort of Americans who were strong supporters of the Democratic Party for decades to come.
Understanding what drives generational differences strengthens our understanding of how public attitudes are being shaped. Is a shift in views broad-based, reflecting a fundamental change in how all generations view an issue? Or is the change concentrated among a particular generation, reflecting the composition and formative experiences of one group, but not the public more broadly? These are some of the questions that cohort analysis – through the use of generations – help researchers answer.
Examples of Generational Analysis: Same-Sex Marriage and Marijuana Legalization
Views on the issue of same-sex marriage are a good example of how researchers can use generations to understand shifting public attitudes.
The accompanying chart shows the percent that support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally across generations from 2005 to 2015. Over this time period, support for same-sex marriage has grown from 36% to 55% among the public overall. (See this interactive for opinions of same-sex marriage over time.)
When it comes to same-sex marriage there have long been significant differences between older and younger people at individual points in time. Cohort analysis of these attitudes illustrates that these differences persist across the generations.
Millennials and Gen Xers came into the population more supportive of allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally than older generations, and those greater levels of support have persisted over time. As a result, some of the explanation for an overall shift in attitudes about same-sex marriage is attributable to a “generational replacement” as members of older, less supportive, generations pass away, they are “replaced” in the adult population by members of younger, more supportive, generations entering adulthood.
But at the same time, all generations – younger and older alike – have become more likely to support same-sex marriage over the past decade, suggesting a period effect separate from age or cohort.
Another example of how generational analysis can aid in understanding public opinion is the case of attitudes about marijuana.
In recent years, there has been a fundamental shift in attitudes toward legalization of marijuana. When Gallup first asked about this issue in 1969, just 12% of the public favored legalizing the use of marijuana, while 84% were opposed. In March of this year, 53% said the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 44% disagreed. However, the shift in attitudes over time has not been linear — support for marijuana legalization rose throughout the 1970s, fell in the 1980s, before steadily growing over the last quarter century.
The trend in opinion on legalizing marijuana highlights how overall societal mood or forces (period) can shift attitudes, as well as how people may be differentially influenced by those forces at different ages (cohort). In 1973, the Baby Boom generation was coming of age, with its adult members then between the ages of 18 and 27. At that time, 43% of Boomers favored legalizing the use of marijuana by comparison, just 16% of those in the Silent Generation (who were then ages 28 to 45) favored legalization.
During the 1980s, the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush took a hard-line approach to illicit drug use as concern over the dangers of marijuana rose. Between 1978 and 1990, support for the legal use of marijuana fell by 30 percentage points among Boomers (from 47% to 17%) and by 11 points among Silents (from 25% to 14%). Though one potential hypothesis is that these shifts were attributable to life-stage (that people might become less supportive of marijuana as they move into middle age) opinion among the youngest generation at that time, Gen X, suggests the importance of the period. Among Xers, whose oldest members were in their early to mid-20s in 1990, just 21% favored legalization at the time they were far less supportive of legalization than Boomers had been at a comparable stage in their lives.
Since then, overall support for marijuana legalization has increased across all three of these generations. But the patterns are somewhat different for each. Among Boomers, support for marijuana legalization now surpasses levels from when they were young (50% today vs. 43% in 1973). But among Silents, support remains far lower compared to other generations: Their support for legal marijuana has been low since the question was first asked in 1969 (when they were then 24-41), and today just 29% say it should be legal. Among Gen Xers, who came of age in a period of little support for legalization, support has more than doubled since their youth (52% say its use should be legal today, compared to 21% in 1990).
Millennials (who were born in the 1980s and 1990s, and have come of age in a period when support for legalization was rising among their elders) are the most supportive of legalization: Since 2006, the share of Millennials favoring the legal use of marijuana has doubled, from 34% to 68%, reflecting a sharper rise in support than seen among Xers and Boomers.
While the generation lens is especially powerful for an issue such as marijuana legalization, meaningful generational patterns are not seen across all issues. Views on gun control, for example, are an area where there are only modest differences by generation, with larger opinion gaps seen across other variables, including gender, education and population density.
Key Differences Between the Generations
There are fundamental differences across generations, from their racial and ethnic composition, to how quickly they reach certain milestones such as marriage, to their political and ideological orientations.
Some are enduring differences that will shape the generations over the course of their lifetimes. Others are largely a function of age or life-stage.
One example of an enduring difference across the current generations is their racial and ethnic composition. Millennials are the most diverse adult generation: 57% are non-Hispanic whites, while 21% are Hispanic, 13% are black and 6% are Asian. Each older generation is less diverse. Non-Hispanic whites make up 61% of Generation X, 72% of Baby Boomers and 78% of the Silent generation.
The current demographic composition of the country guarantees that the next generation will be even more diverse than Millennials. The unique demographic profiles of the generations are unlikely to change a great deal over time and often underlie opinion dynamics on issues. 3
In addition to their racial and ethnic composition, the generations also differ in life-shaping behaviors, such as marriage – behaviors that are not cast by the composition of a cohort but are informed by values and economic circumstances.
In 2014, just 28% of Millennials were married. This makes them remarkably different than members of the Silent Generation at the same stage in their lives: fully 64% of Silents were married when members of their generation were between the ages of 18 and 33. About half (49%) of Baby Boomers and 38% of Gen Xers were married when their generation was ages 18 to 33. Generational analysis allows for these comparative snapshots, but it also lets researchers track what happens as these cohorts age.
For example, just 38% of Generation X were married when they were ages 18 to 33, but many of those who weren’t married at that age did not reject the institution of marriage altogether. Instead, a large share of Gen Xers have married later in life than previous generations. As of 2014, fully 81% of Generation X (then ages 34-49) had ever been married, resulting in a narrowing of the gap between Xers and the two older generations – Baby Boomers (90%) and Silents (96%) – in the percent who at that point had ever been married.
Marriage rates among Millennials are at an even lower starting point than for Gen X. However, marriage rates will continue to rise among Millennials as they age. The exact trajectory of marriage rates among Millennials is unclear, however. A recent Pew Research Center analysis projects that by the time they reach middle age, as many as 25% of Millennials will have never married – an all-time high.
The pattern of religious identity is another fundamental difference between the generations. Older generations identify overwhelmingly as Christian. For example, 85% of the Silent generation identify as a member of a Christian denomination, while just 11% say they are religiously unaffiliated (defined as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”). By contrast, smaller majorities of Millennials (56%) and Gen Xers (70%) identify as Christian, while as many as 35% of Millennials and 23% of Gen Xers do not identify with any organized religion.
Over the past seven years, the share of the U.S. population that does not identify with an organized religion has grown since 2007. Much of this change has occurred due to generational replacement the youngest adults who are aging into the population are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated than the oldest adults they are replacing.
While marriage rates are expected to rise among younger generations as they move through the life cycle, there is no indication that younger cohorts will become more religiously affiliated as they age. In fact, Pew Research Center’s 2015 Religious Landscape report found that the share of those who do not identify with a religion had grown across generations. Between 2007 and 2014, for example, the share of older Millennials (born 1981-1989) who do not identify with a religion rose nine percentage points, from 25% to 34%. Among Gen Xers, there was a four-point rise in the share who do not identify with a religion (19% in 2007 to 23% in 2014).
Partisan Affiliation and Ideology
Overall, the share of political independents in the public has been rising in recent years, and in 2014 reached 39%, the highest percentage in more than 75 years of polling.
An analysis of long term trends in party identification, released in April, found that Millennials are more likely than older cohorts to identify as independents. Nearly half of Millennials (48%) identify as independents, compared with 40% of Gen Xers and smaller shares of Boomers (35%) and Silents (29%).
When the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account, Millennials are the most Democratic generation, while Silents are the most Republican.
The political climate of early adulthood may continue to influence the political tilt of a generation throughout its life span, as noted in a 2011 Pew Research Center report on generations. For example, members of the Greatest Generation, who came of age during the Great Depression and the Franklin Roosevelt administration, carried strong Democratic tendencies throughout their adulthood.
Yet the differences in partisan affiliation across generations tell only part of the story there also is considerable variance within generations. And, with sufficient data, cohort analysis can be used to investigate within-generation differences by examining smaller age spans.
The accompanying graph showing partisan leanings in 2014 for adults based on the year they were born is an example of this. The line shows the percentage identifying or leaning Democratic minus the percentage identifying or leaning Republican. The further left the line on the graph, the larger the Democratic advantage for that year the further right, the larger the Republican advantage.
Older Baby Boomers have consistently had a more Democratic imprint than younger Boomers. Older Boomers were born in the late 1940s and early 1950s and came of voting age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Younger Boomers were born later (in the mid-to-late 1950s and early 1960s) and largely came of age in the 1970s and early 1980s, during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Older Gen Xers are more Republican (and less Democratic) than younger Gen Xers, whose strong Democratic leanings more closely resemble those of older Millennials.
As with partisan affiliation, there are substantial differences in the ideological leanings of generations. Based on data from the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Political Polarization survey, Millennials are currently the least conservative generation.
Across a set of 10 political values questions on issues such as the role of government, the environment and business, just 15% of Millennials express either consistently or mostly conservative views compared with 44% who have a mix of liberal and conservative views and fully 41% who express consistently or mostly liberal views. By comparison, more Gen Xers (25%), Baby Boomers (33%) and Silents (39%) express consistently or mostly conservative views across this set of 10 questions.
The Post-Millennial Generation
Given all that we know about generations how do we identify where to draw the line between the Millennial generation and the next generation? Today’s youngest adults are Millennials, but the 16-year span of Millennial birth years (1981-1997) is already about as wide a range as those of the other living generations. And Millennials are projected to surpass Baby Boomers in 2015 as the nation’s largest living generation, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. So it seems likely that in the near future the youngest adults will be members of a post-Millennial generation.
Historical and demographic markers will factor into determining the dividing line between Millennials and post-Millennials. But it is unlikely that any single indicator or an ‘aha’ moment will mark the end of the Millennial generation, absent some unexpected event. More likely is that an end-point definition will emerge over time as debate among researchers and usage in popular culture forms a working definition. As with Generation X and its original “Baby Bust” label, there may be different names attached to the post-Millennial generation before one eventually sticks.
Regardless of where and when the line is drawn to end the Millennial generation, it will take several years before enough post-Millennials have reached adulthood to allow for meaningful statements about the next adult generation. One thing is clear: the next generation, today’s children and teens, will likely be shaped by very different influences and forces than the generations that preceded it.