Mental Floss

Revised Guidelines Redefine Birth Years and Classifications for Gen X, Millennials, and Generation Z

Michele Debczak
SeventyFour/iStock via Getty Images
SeventyFour/iStock via Getty Images / SeventyFour/iStock via Getty Images

Move over, Millennials: Generation Z is officially the most accurate label to describe the youth of today. The Pew Research Center periodically updates the age ranges it uses to define the generational groups known as the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Earlier in 2019, the organization included the birth years for Generation Z for the first time. Check out the latest definitions for each generation below:

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (76-93 years old)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (57-75 years old)
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (41-56 years old)
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (25-40 years old)
  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012 (9-24 years old)
  • Generation Alpha: Born 2010-2025 (0-11 years old)

When Pew Research revised its guidelines for generational classifications in 2018, Gen Z didn't appear on the list as a separate category. People born between 1997—the cutoff for Millennials—and the present year were simply called "Post-Millennials."

Generation Z has since grown into a economical and cultural force that's hard to ignore. The world's teens and youngest adults have been behind many of the most biggest fashion trends, political movements, and memes of 2019. Even though the oldest Millennials have been in their thirties for almost a decade, the generation has long been synonymous with young people. With Generation Z gaining attention, that's finally starting to change.

Pew Research defines members of Generation Z as anyone born between 1997 and 2012. That means the group spans ages 7 to 22 in 2019. The organization cites important political, economic, and technological factors that helped them determine the cutoff from Millennial to Generation Z. Most American Millennials were shaped by 9/11, the Iraq War, and the economic recession of 2008, while members of Gen Z may have little to no memory of these events. Generation Z is also notable for being the first generation to be totally immersed in the world of the internet since birth.

As they gain influence, you can expect to hear a lot more about Gen Z-ers and the industries they may or may not be blamed for killing in the 2020s.

A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2021.