Generation Y

From Academic Kids

Generation Y, sometimes called the Millenial Generation, is a term used in demographics to describe a particular generational cohort in Western societies. The cohort comprises those born in the 1980s and 1990s although no consensus has emerged specifying exact dates. Many in Generation Y are the children of Baby Boomers, and the generation is also known as the "Echo (Boom) generation," because it is, in some areas, the largest demographic grouping since the baby boom that immediately followed World War II (the U.S. birth rate per 1,000 population, however, declined for seven consecutive years starting in 1991 — the second longest such streak on record, exceeded only by the eleven-year baby bust of 1958 through 1968). Most these Generation Yers parents are from the Baby Boomers generation and much less from Generation X, their grandparents mostly from the G.I. Generation and Silent Generation, and their typical children are in the proposed future generation that comes after Generation Z.

Many labels have been attached to this generation, although none has been overwhelmingly accepted yet. The generation is also called the Millennial Generation. The name "Newmils" is popular in the UK, as is the term "Thatcher's Children." The term "echo" is most popular in Canada, inspired by David K. Foot and Daniel Stoffman's book Boom, Bust and Echo. The Y in Generation Y comes from the name Generation X sometimes given to the previous generation (Y immediately following X in the alphabet.) In the Generations system of authors Strauss and Howe, the Millennial Generation, as they call it, is the generation of Americans born from 1982 to 2003. However, the more typical definition is 1977 or 1978 to 1993 or 1994. 1977 is less accepted, and is sometimes included in both Gen X and Gen Y because, while it is sometimes thought of as being part of Gen X, many Gen Y cultural figures were born in 1977 and they tend to identify more with Gen Y. In his book "Growing Up Digital, business strategist and psychologist Don Tapscott coined the term "Net Generation" for the group, pointing at the significance of being the first to grow up immersed in a digital- and Internet-driven world.

Perhaps a good way to define the boundaries of this generation in the United States are by the September 11th attacks; people who were not yet born in 2001 or were too young to remember and/or understand what happened on that infamous day would be grouped into Generation Z, while people who were solidly of age, out of school, and into adult life would be grouped into Generation X. This would correspond to approximately 1977 or 1978 to 1993 or 1994; coincidentally, many actually do consider these to be the boundaries of Generation Y. This same thinking is what leads many people to deny that those born from 1958 to 1964 are Baby Boomers, since they would be too young to remember the Kennedy assassination as well as having been obviously too young to possibly have been drafted into the Vietnam War.


Generation Y in the United States

Over 60 million people were born between 1977 and 1993 in the United States [1] ( Some demographers define those years as constituting the large baby bulge of the late 20th century in that country, and define people born between those years as the "echo generation." Those numbers mark the echo as slightly smaller than the Baby Boom (72 million), but much larger than Generation X (Between 40 and 45 million). Birth rates in the United States peaked around 1989-90 and have dropped considerably since then, but remain higher than in the 1960s'70s. Most families with children in the 1980s and 90s had only a few kids, leading to smaller families than in previous generations, although this was merely the continuation of a trend that began earlier in the century.

They were the first to grow up with the Internet in a developed, prolific form, including music downloads, instant messaging and cellular phones. The portmanteau Screenager was coined in 1997 by Douglas Rushkoff in his book Playing the Future to describe this techno-savvy generation.

Characteristically, they are generally very tolerant towards multiculturalism and internationalism. It is also not uncommon for post-1970's born children to grow up dating people outside their own race or ethnic group, as well as having a wide range in friends.

Generation Y in the United States, the children of the “Baby Boomers”, have been carefully parented and groomed toward success, partially due to the guilt of the Baby Boomers over their own rejection of their parents. This overparenting and indulgence, combined with perhaps overly adult and mature relationships with their own parents, has led to them becoming adults with their own hopes and dreams. Sometime they feel they have their life made out for them by the time they are eighteen. Constricted in the most evolved bubble of “teenager-hood” ever, they tend to lead mini-adulthoods while still in high school and facing adolescence. They were raised to expect success and have already had some of it provided for them by their parents and grandparents. Some sociologists predict a backlash against this is coming, although many do not see that trend. For the most part, though, they are far less rebellious on the whole than either Generation X or their parents, the Baby Boomers. They desire to change the world, whether it be for them or for the good of mankind, and often it is somewhere in between, but most of them have very high hopes to change the world and alter it to their making. They like social groups and working together, but usually do not evolve extracurricular families like "Generation X."

They also tend to be very competent with technology and in people skills, although they may or may or not use abilities for good. Few seem to be content to simply lead youthful lives, instead opting for greater things. They have mostly been fairly sheltered, exposed to great amounts of knowledge through a feeding tube. Many of them have become somewhat self-centered, although some would say they are merely appreciative of their skills, and note their tendency to joking self-deprecation. Most cyclical predictions and their desire to change the world, along with their lowered capacity for or interest in rebellion, would predict that they will become the first truly establishment generation, wholly ambitious, since the G.I. Generation. It is possible they will go through guilt over the "War on Terror" and its ambiguities, especially those born in the earlier part who fought in it, and the current strength of political divisions that they have grown up or are growing up under. The current Generation Y celebrities show the greed for success and for influence, influence more than anything, even more than money, that consumes this generation. However, on the other hand, they are more conservative and establishment than the last two generations, and do not rebel against authority, but work with it. They will undoubtedly have great influence on all areas of American life. Most examples of Generation Y are fairly unconservative and unrebellious in practice, which perhaps will make them more successful and influential, putting them into establishment positions.

Music and subcultures

Music of Generation Y was believed to have made an influence starting in the mid 90's with the sudden popularity of Boy bands. Pop icons such as Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys were often associated with the first wave of Generation Y'ers born in the early to mid 80's, along with a steady increase in rap (such as Eminem), music into the year 2000 was believed to be in stark contrast to the grunge bands of the early 90's defining Generation X's attitude, even rock, unlike the earlier years, became corporate and watered down. Bands such as Linkin Park, Simple Plan and The Killers, while popular for several years, soon received much criticism from their own generation for being "sell-outs". This trend in corporate acts is believed to have started around 1994 or 95, and continued through 2002, but by 2003 it was met with slightly different tones as the bulk of Generation Y, born primarily in the late 80's and and early 90's, began influencing the music industry. While pop music still dominated through 2004, different rock acts such as The White Stripes, The Strokes, Incubus, The Hives and, surprisingly, a comeback album named American Idiot, by Generation X'ers Green Day in late 2004, showed the deep divisions among Generation Y, through politics and the Iraq War that continued to rage through 2004. The change in popular music is not simply a difference between two sections of a generation, but rather a difference that many of them embraced as the war in Iraq raged on. Rap still made huge success in the form of 50 Cent a suprise to many and Usher released several hits through 2004. While rap continues to ride on the success of Usher and Eminem, a strong influence of Indie Rock and emo has shown into 2005, with outstanding success by Hawthorne Heights an Emo-like indie act which has fallen into regular MTV rotation along with Franz Ferdinand.

The four most prevalent subcultures are Goth (The Cure, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails), rave, indie rock (a culture more than a specific sound) and Emo (Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Hawthorne Heights). Indie rock and emo are closely related, due to the fact that emo music originated in the underground rock movement of the 1980s. As usual, the subcultures have aligned themselves along musical lines, however, there is a large amount of them out there that don't wear "the" clothes and put on the aesthetic expression of counterculture, but still are apart from the main cultural stream. Many also feel disconnent with the current corporate music and have started pulling out their parents' old vinyls from the 60s and 70s and anti-corporate bands from the 90's, musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, and The Beatles have struck notable attention from this age group, partly in reaction against the prominance of hip hop, and pop music over the past decade.

Current problems and trends among this generation

Many are also confused about their role in life as they age from nurtured childhoods towards what they were prepared for by their Baby Boomer parents, to make money and to achieve high societal enlightenment. One characteristic of them is a certain moral preachiness and pretentiousness, as one of their main aspirations is to be "good, nice people" and to give to charity, so taught by their parents. As said before, there are sociologists who predict a backlash against this, as it conflicts with something common among this generation, banter lying somewhere between joking and insults.

This is combined with disillusionment and sometimes ambivalence to what they view as immorality in their friends and around the world. Underage drinking is common among those in high school and college (US). Marijuana use is also quite high. Rave culture in particular is known for its use of ecstasy at electronic music parties. This is in part a result of the fact that their boomer parents experimented with drugs during the 60s and 70s and has influenced trends in drug use among this generation. Many of this generation are also quite sexually promiscuous: hooking up ( with random people at parties and engaging in premarital sex. They have grown up in a culture of wide spread sexual education. If their parents are overprotective, they often lie about their sex lives. However if their parents are more open-minded, such as those that participated in the Summer of Love, this generation may be a bit more honest with them.

They also tend to be confused and perhaps guilty about the current “War on Terror” and the conservative George W. Bush administration. While aware of the world around them, they remain separate. The September 11, 2001 attacks have clearly impacted and shaped the world they are growing up in.

Many are great visionaries. They tend to--rather than being hostile--be somewhat ambivalent towards authority, and see it as something to work around rather than work against. Some have used their great expertise to work hard, while others have not used what their parents have given them and have already fallen by the wayside.

They grew up and are still growing up during the digital revolution. They do not have substantial memories or realizations of the Cold War, or even the Reagan administrations. Many view 60s idealism and hippieism as the establishment of their parents, the Baby Boomers, while at the same time viewing them as hypocritical sell-outs. They mainly have come of age either during the late Clinton term during the Lewinsky scandal and the “dot-com” boom or during the current Bush administration. The "dot-com boom" had a strong influence on their desire for instant success; they heard at a young but still intelligent age of people becoming billionaires overnight.

The effect of the higher birth rates was felt first in schools. Higher enrollment, which was sometimes up 50–60% in a decade, made school budgetting difficult. Cut backs were made in many areas to maintain basic services. Meanwhile, though, among the upper and middle classes, there was more of a general cultural and political emphasis on education of children and children's rights laws, especially during the 1990s. This exemplifies the startling but hidden class divisions present in the youth of Generation Y.

While the echo was much larger than the previous cohorts, except the Baby Boom, the relative size of this generation is much smaller that the Baby Boom. The American population was much larger in the 1990s than in the 1950s or '60s. From 1946 to 1964, the U.S. total fertility rate averaged 3.3 — high enough to double the population every two generations. Since 1980, it has averaged 1.9, which is below the so-called replacement rate. Families continued to get smaller than in previous decades, usually with only one or two children.

Americans Under Age 18
YearMillionsPercent of Population

Source: [2] (

Generation Y elsewhere

In many rich countries, the 1980s and 1990s were a period of rapidly falling birthrates. In Southern Europe and Japan, and less markedly in Northern and Eastern Europe, Generation Y is dramatically smaller than any of its predecessors, and their childhood was marked by small families, both immediate and extended, small classes at school and school closure. In the Soviet Union during the 1980s, there was a "baby boom echo" similar to that in the United States, and Generation Y there is relatively large; however, birth rates fell through the floor in the 1990s to extremely low levels. This meant a lot of individual attention from parents in a period in which society was becoming intrinsically more risk averse.

The child poverty rate was still relatively high in many western countries throughout the 1980s and '90s.

The increasing stratification of wealth in many societies has led to an increase in the societal differences between poor and rich members of this generation. Although many middle class and wealthier families arrange many extra curricular activities for their children, less affluent families cannot afford such extras, increasing the pressure on their own children.

In Eastern Europe, Generation Y is the first generation without mature memories of Communism or dictatorship. In newly rich countries such as South Korea or Greece, Generation Y has known nothing but developed world standards of living, while their grandparents often grew up in developing world conditions, causing considerable social changes and inter-generational difficulties as the young reject many traditional ways of life.

Famous members of Generation Y

A listing of famous members of the Millennial generation with birth dates from 1977 through 1993 (and death dates for those that have died) includes the following:


Preceded by:
Generation X
Generation Y
Succeeded by:
"Generation Z"

tr:Y jenerasyonu


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