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Generation X
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Generation X

This article is about the demographic Generation X - for the comic book, see Generation X (comics)

Generation X generally consists of persons born in the 1960s and 1970s, although the exact dates of birth defining this age demographic are highly debated. It has also been described as consisting of those people whose "teen years touched the 1980s", born after baby boomers. The term Generation X is a cultural idea, rather than a demographic term, and as such describes a cultural period, or a select group of people, rather than a generation of people, spanning all classes, races, or nations, born in a certain period of time. Most traits associated with this generation are based on a particular segment of society, rather than general phenomena common to most of society.

As a phrase, without the current meaning, the term was coined as the title of a 1964 pulp novel, and was picked up as the name of a punk rock band featuring the young Billy Idol. It was later popularised by Douglas Coupland in his book , who took it from a sociological text by Paul Fussell. It was after the publication of Coupland's book that the term began being used as a name for the generation by the media, who introduced Generation X as a group of flannel-wearing, alienated, over-educated, underachieving slackers with body piercing who drank Starbucks coffee and had to work at McJobs.

Table of contents
1 Beginnings
2 Outlook
3 Cultural endowments
4 Gen-X celebrities


The generation was traditionally begun at 1965, taking off from the birth-rate-based Baby Boom span of 1946-1964, but since many notable people who are normally thought of as clearly Gen-X, such as Courtney Love, Janeane Garofalo and Eddie Vedder, were born in 1964, this year is often preferred as the beginning of Generation X. In their book Generations William Strauss and Neil Howe called this generation the "13th Generation" because the tag, like this generation, is a little Halloweenish, and it is the thirteenth to know the flag of the United States (counting back to the peers of Benjamin Franklin) and set its birth years at 1961 to 1981. This generation is sometimes also known as the Baby Busters or just Busters; although in Anthony Brancato's system this generation is divided into two discrete groups, the Baby Busters (Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain) and the Post-Busters (Ani DiFranco and Alanis Morissette), with the former group's first birth year being fixed at 1958 instead of 1961 (this system also observes 1980 and not 1981 as the last birth year for the Post-Busters). "Baby Busters" was, in fact, the only name to be used for this generation before Coupland's book came out. Jonathan Pontell begins the generation at 1966, placing 1965 as part of Generation Jones. In Europe, the generation is often known as Generation E, or simply known as the Nineties Generation, along the lines of such other European generation names as "Generation of 1968" and "Generation of 1914". In France, the term Génération Bof is in use, with "bof" being a French word for "Whatever", the defining Gen-X saying. In Iran, they are called the Burnt Generation. In some Latin American countries the name "Crisis Generation" is sometimes used due to the recurring financial crisis in the region during those years.

This generation's parents are the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. Generation X's typical grandparents are the G.I. Generation. Generation X's children will be or have been born in the 1990s and the following few decades, including Generation Y and the following generation. Assuming generations have a 22-year average length, this means Generation X's children will be born from 1982 to 2025. Its typical grandchildren will be born from 2026 to about 2048. (What is meant by typical is that a generation's grandchildren will be born at a bell-curve rate and those years are the top of the bell curve.)

Generation X consists of far fewer people (19 million, U.S.) than the baby boom generation (72 million, U.S.) and has had correspondingly less impact on popular culture, but it came into its own during the late 1980s and early 1990s. A fashion for grunge music exemplified by the band Nirvana expressed the frustrations of a generation forever doomed to live in the shadow of its elders. As is common in generational shifts, Gen-X thinking has significant overtones of cynicism against things held dear to the previous generation.


Some have suggested that Generation Xers are proud to not be from the baby boom generation and actively rebel against the idealism the baby boomers advocated in the 1960s. Some would also argue that it is not merely the idealism of the 1960s which Generation Xers are rejecting, but a deeper cynicism of the fact that such "idealism", inevitably doomed in its gratuitous naïveté, so quickly gave way to an era unequivocally focused on commercial and industrial progress; a period which incubated many of the problems facing their, and coming, generations. They fantasize about how the 1960s and 1970s supposedly offered Boomers easy sex without consequence while resenting the lasting damage done by an era in which they now realize they were the babies adults were trying so much not to have.

Other people born in the described time period reject the labels as not particularly useful, and point to social class, geography, and other factors having far more influence than chronology. The fuzzy boundaries of Generations X and Y give some credence to this argument; though perhaps, more obviously, such facts underwrite the very problem central to the definition of Generation X, and alluded to in the title itself—namely a crisis of identity.

The problem may be that this generation lacks a core. While Boomers couldn't escape their generational center, Xers struggle to find one. Generation X is the most immigrant generation born in the twentieth century.

Generation X has survived a hurried childhood of divorce, latchkeys, space shuttle explosions, open classrooms, devil-child movies, and a shift from G to R ratings. They came of age curtailing the earlier rise in youth crime and fall in SAT test scores -- yet heard themselves denounced as so wild and stupid as to put The Nation At Risk. As young adults, maneuvering through a sexual barricade of AIDS and blighted courtship rituals, they date and marry cautiously. In jobs, they embrace risk and prefer free agency to loyal corporatism. Politically, they lean toward pragmatism and nonaffiliation. Sometimes criticized as "slackers", they nevertheless were widely credited with a new growth of entreprenuership and the resulting dot-com boom.

Cultural endowments

Generation X's cultural endowments have included the following:

Gen-X celebrities

Celebrities born 1961 through 1981 include:

Preceded by:
Baby Boomers
Generation X
Succeeded by:
Generation Y