97 Facts About Generation X

We’ll discuss the “latchkey kid” label, analyze Gen X’s confounding religious and political beliefs, and even touch on why German Gen Xers are known as “Generation Golf.”

Chad was a popular Gen X name.
Chad was a popular Gen X name. / Rick Gayle Studio/The Image Bank/Getty Images
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After Baby Boomers but before Millennials is Generation X, the people born between the period of 1965 and 1980. With an age range of 41 to 56, these folks were the first to get hip to the internet, wear parachute pants, and worry that Y2K was going to ruin the world.

But there’s more to this category of humans than ’90s references. Check out some things you may not have realized about the inarguably dopest generational construct.

1. The term Generation X came from a novel.

In his 1991 debut Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, author Douglas Coupland wanted to recontextualize young members of the Baby Boomer generation, or people born after the end of World War II. He labeled the newer, more disenfranchised group Generation X after reading a 1983 book titled Class by Paul Fussell. Fussell used X to refer to people who wanted to distance themselves from the social struggle for class status and professional glory. It was perfect for Coupland’s cast of characters in search of their own identities.

2. Gen X generally applies to people born between 1965 and 1980. 

Coupland’s book inadvertently created a label for those born between 1965 and 1980. Reflecting on the moment, Coupland said that buzzwords like slacker and grunge were hitting at around the same time and had many of the same connotations. The book’s initial printing wasn’t a big success, but Richard Linklater’s Slacker and the new Seattle sound created something of a cultural movement. As Coupland wrote, “Two’s nothing, but three’s a trend.” And thus, Gen X stuck.

3. Billy Idol was an early adopter of the term.

Billy Idol at MTV Awards Show
Billy Idol. / Debra Trebitz/GettyImages

While Coupland made Generation X stick to a generation of people, the term did pop up in other places before his book. In the 1950s, war photographer Robert Capa titled a portfolio profiling young adults Generation X. And though rock musician Billy Idol is a Baby Boomer, he may have helped the Gen X term gain ground in pop culture. When Idol was first starting out on the punk rock scene, his London-based band was named Generation X after a 1964 book on—what else—sociology (though to be clear, that book was focused on the teenagers of 1960s England). 

Despite some assumptions, Coupland said Idol did not inspire the title of his book, although maybe he wishes it had been Idol getting all the credit. 

In 1995, Coupland said he was tired of being stereotyped as a Gen X-pert and had to repeatedly turn down invitations from politicians and consumer companies to advise them on how to reach the demographic. Considering some of these invites came with offers of $10,000 just to talk and he still said no, Coupland must really have been burned out on the topic.

4. Gen X has been called “The MTV generation.”

Before Coupland’s term became entrenched, pop culture pundits tried on a variety of different names to describe people in their twenties who wanted to break away from the Boomer generation. Some of the ideas that were floated included the forgotten generation, the baby buster generation, the lost generation, the doofus generation, the twentynothings, numb and dumb, the thirteeners—because some believe they’re the 13th generation, depending on when in American history you start counting—and the MTV generation.

The latter may have been a bit of self-serving marketing on MTV’s part. Though they claimed they didn’t invent the phrase, the music channel aired a documentary titled The MTV Generation in 1991 that profiled young adults. Coupland himself wasn’t a fan, saying that calling the group the MTV Generation would be like “going through life with a big product placement tattooed on your head.”

5. They have a telling nickname in Russia.

In Russia, Gen Xers are referred to as “the last Soviet children,” seeing as they were the last kids to come of age while the Soviet Union was still intact.

6. In Germany, they’re known as “Generation Golf.” 

1983 Volkswagen Golf Gti mk1
1983 Volkswagen Golf Gti mk1. / Heritage Images/GettyImages

The name comes from author Florian Illies’s book Generation Golf – An Inspection, which used the Volkswagen Golf as a symbol for the age group [PDF]. Illies felt that it was common for German children of Generation Golf to define themselves through brands. Illies considered them to be materialistic and superficial, but that didn’t stop the book from becoming popular with the age group. 

7. A different German name for Gen X nods to history.

Another German nickname is the “children of Mauerfall” or “children of the wall coming down”—the wall, of course, being the Berlin wall.

8. Chad is a common Gen X name ...

Every generation plays favorites when it comes to names. Boomers were fond of Garys and Larrys, while the Silent Generation preceding them preferred Dolores and Billy. For Gen X, future meme bro Chad was a popular choice, becoming the 25th most popular baby name in 1972. Historically, most Chads are Gen Xers. 

9. … But it wasn’t the most popular Gen X name.

The most common names of the generation were Jennifer for girls and Michael for boys.

10. Gen X is very nostalgic.

You may have noticed that a lot of movies and television shows are sequels, remakes, reboots, continuations, or otherwise related to something that was popular 30 to 40 years ago. Think Cobra Kai and Top Gun: Maverick.

If you’re tired of rehashes, you can probably blame Gen X. According to a survey of YouTube users conducted by Google in 2017, 75 percent of Gen Xers liked watching online videos that looked back on culture or world events from their past. They searched for music videos, movie scenes, and even commercials that remind them of a simpler time.

Glen Weldon of the Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast told NPR in 2017 that the nostalgia rush could also be due to Gen Xers becoming studio heads and network executives, looking to tap into their childhoods for fond memories that will appeal to people their age. 

This tendency to look back seems to be a running theme for the generation. As far back as 1991, The New York Times was talking about Gen X’s “fascination with the past,” whether that meant emulating the James Dean ’50s or celebrating the more recently departed disco era.

Of course, it would be overstating it to say this cohort has a monopoly on nostalgia. Just spend 10 minutes online and you’ll find someone reminiscing about the year 2004. But there are a fair number of recent examples that do show Gen X cultural creators looking backwards.

11. J.J. Abrams’s filmography embodies Gen X nostalgia.

J.J. Abrams
J.J. Abrams. / Leon Bennett/GettyImages

J.J. Abrams is on the older end of the age group, and has expressed his nostalgia in films like Super 8, and the Star Wars reboot, and the Star Trek reboot.

12. Chuck Klosterman’s The Nineties looks back from a Gen X POV …

In 2023, writer Chuck Klosterman published a book called The Nineties, hardly his first foray into nostalgic cultural commentary. 

13. … As does a popular podcast from Gen X’s Bill Simmons.

Bill Simmons
Bill Simmons. / Araya Doheny/GettyImages

The Ringer is a multimillion dollar media company founded by Bill Simmons, a writer who came to fame partially with his liberal use of references to Gen X cultural touchstones like the movie Teen Wolf. Simmons now hosts a podcast called The Rewatchables, which often covers films from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

14. The generation’s filmmakers also pushed the medium forward. 

Kevin Smith expanded the boundaries of success for low-budget independent movies and John Singleton became the first Black American filmmaker nominated for the Best Director Oscar. And John Hughes classics like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star Gen X characters, though Hughes was not a Gen Xer himself—he was a Boomer.

15. Mental Floss was founded by two members of the generation.

Will Pearson, Mangesh Hattikudur
Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur. / JC Olivera/GettyImages

And, for the record, Mental Floss was founded by two members of Gen X, Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur. 

16. Gen X has a lot of student debt ...

Gen X has been called “the slacker generation.” Arguably playing against that stereotype, a large number of these supposed slackers went to college. The problem? It came with a lot of debt. In a 2018 article, Pew Research noted that 65 percent of college students were borrowing to pay for their education in the year 2000, just as younger Gen X members were finishing up. That was up from one-third of people borrowing in 1977.

And while they’ve generally been earning more than Boomers, it hasn’t had a positive effect on their debt. Pew reported that nine out of 10 Gen X respondents claimed to have debt, the highest of any group.

17. … And it could affect their retirement.

Man putting coin in piggy bank
Gen X’s student debt could be detrimental to their retirement. / Halfpoint Images/Moment/Getty Images

In 2023, the National Institute of Retirement Security reported that Gen Xers held a bit more than $40,000 in student loan debt on average with a median amount of $25,000. Their research also showed that “Gen Xers with student loan debt have lower net worths and are more likely to fall short of their retirement savings targets, at least in part due to student loan debt. As a result, student loan debt has negative retirement implications for these workers.”

18. Gen X isn’t ready for retirement.

While the pandemic shook up virtually everyone’s financial status, it seems like Gen X took more of a hit than other groups. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 41 percent of Gen Xers were afraid their retirement funds would run out before they die [PDF], while a different survey found that only a third of Gen Xers believed they were saving enough.

According to Business Insider, one reason the group’s retirement may be shaky is because they’re a kind of middle generation, caring not only for their children but for older adults in the family as well. That leaves less time for work.

19. Gen X is pretty concerned about inflation.

In a CNBC survey conducted in the summer of 2022, different generational groups were asked about coping with inflation. It appears Gen X is taking it extremely seriously. Sixty-one percent of Gen Xers said they were cutting discretionary spending, like dining out, compared to 37 percent of Millennials and 54 percent of Boomers. Forty-one percent said they’re trying to save on mandatory expenses, like groceries, compared to 26 percent of Millennials cutting back.

20. Gen X is a billionaire-creating outlier.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Generation X has more self-made billionaires than any other generation. 

21. Many of those billionaires made their fortunes in tech.

About a quarter of those billionaires made their money in the tech industry, as the internet and computing came to dominate the world economy towards the turn of the millennium. 

22. Google was founded by two Gen Xers.

The founders of Google, for example—Larry Page and Sergey Brin—are both from Generation X. 

23. Many Gen X billionaires aren’t U.S. citizens.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk. / Dimitrios Kambouris/GettyImages

Elon Musk is also a Gen Xer—and though he's a naturalized American citizen, he was born outside the United States, which is not uncommon among wealthy members of the generation. Gen X billionaires are more likely to be citizens of countries other than the United States, compared to other age groups.

24. It’s not just Gen X billionaires who feel secure in their jobs. 

Gen Xers Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson represent more than a third of the sitting Supreme Court justices. 

25. Gen X once had a sub-group named Xennials.

Stuffing people into pre-defined boxes never gets old, and so Gen Xers have been further sliced up with alternative labels. Some nicknames for the quasi-generation at the cusp of Gen X and Millennials include “The Lucky Ones,” the “Oregon Trail Generation,” and “Xennials.”

Xennials were born between 1977 and 1983 and were remarkable for having experience with both the clunkier technology of that era as well as the internet and social media while still in their prime socializing years in their twenties. This so-called micro-generation failed to catch on, though you may be familiar with its homophone, Zennials, who are born near the dividing line between Millennials and Gen Z. 

26. Gen X is raising Gen Z.

Many members of Gen X gave birth to kids who now comprise Gen Z. Somewhere, no doubt, there is a Xennial parent raising a Zennial child. 

27. Gen Xer were in no rush to have kids. 

Gen X was more likely to have children later in life than any prior generation.

28. Gen Xers are “helicopter parents.”

That means they’re highly involved in their kids’ upbringing. This could be a reaction against the relatively hands-off parenting style of Gen X’s parents. (More on that in a bit.)

29. Gen X introduced some gnarly verbiage.

Every generation has its own lexicon. If you’re young and on social media, you might find something based. Something could slap. A song could be a banger. For Gen X, their vocabulary was often fixated on how best to describe stuff they were watching on MTV that had a punk or grunge focus. Words that grew popular or took on new meanings include chill pill, gnarly, headbanger, trippin’, rock—as in rock out—and to the max.

30. A Gen X teen helped popularize an emerging archetype.

You might have heard that last phrase in Frank Zappa’s song, “Valley Girl.” His daughter, Moon, is a member of Gen X, and she actually recorded the song’s famous monologue. Though it was meant as a satirical take on the Valley Girl archetype, the song may well have popularized the like-filled diction and uptalking intonation that continue to influence American culture today.

31. Gen X is outnumbered.

Sticking to the current definition of Gen X as anyone born between 1965 and 1980, there are roughly 65 million people in this category in the United States today. That places Generation X at a slight population disadvantage. Baby Boomers are thought to number around 75 million while Millennials clock in with about 83 million. 

32. Gen X could soon overtake Baby Boomers.

According to the Pew Research Center, though, it’s possible Xers could finally outnumber Boomers by 2028. 

33. Gen X feels overlooked. 

Perhaps because they’re sandwiched between two generations the media likes to opine on (Boomers and Millennials), there seems to be a sentiment amongst Gen X that they’re a bit overlooked. 

34. For a time they were the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce.

But it was only for a brief time—they were soon overtaken by Millennials. 

35. Even Gen X’s own self-image is a bit hazy. 

According to a Pew Research Survey from 2010, about 50 percent of respondents in that age group said their generation was unique, compared to around 60 percent of Millennials and Boomers. 

36. They can’t really agree on what makes their generation unique.

Among the people who did say they felt their generation was unique, Xers had less agreement on what it was, precisely, that made them unique: Technology use was the top choice, but that only represented about 12 percent of answers, while 24 percent of Millennials agreed that their use of technology made their age group stand out.

37. Gen X smelled like CK One.

If there was one signature Gen X fragrance in the ‘90s, it was CK One. The citrusy perfume was perceived as an antidote to the stronger scents of the ‘80s, and it had a very particular segment of the population in mind: Generation X. In fact, Calvin Klein, which manufactured the fragrance, commissioned research into the group to see what would be most appealing. The company decided that marketing it as a unisex, or gender-free, scent would be best. A marketing campaign positioned it as a rebellious, anti-authority musk.

And it worked. Upon its release, CK One sold an average of 20 bottles a minute and racked up sales of $90 million annually. 

38. Gen X is handy with analog tools ... with some digital help.

A Google survey found that 75 percent of Gen Xers polled will call up a YouTube video to learn how to do something—fix a faucet, change oil, anything that could be considered a DIY task. This can-do attitude probably saves them money on repair bills. 

39. Gen X was the first generation to grow up with computers.

Old computer at school
Gen X grew up with computers. / secret agent mike/Moment/Getty Images

Not every member of Gen X would be considered a digital native, but computing definitely came to the fore during their lifetimes. Personal computers didn’t make a big dent in the home market until the 1980s, which means Gen X was the first generation in history to have any type of widespread ability to grow up with a PC.

40. Gen X may have been exposed to large amounts of lead.

Lead is a heavy metal that used to be prevalent in daily life, from paint to gasoline. It’s a known neurotoxicant and exposure can be seriously detrimental for your brain. According to research conducted at Florida State University, it’s possible Gen X had exposure to a large amount of lead, mostly due to leaded gasoline that spewed damaging automotive exhaust. Use of leaded gas peaked between the late 1960s and early 1980s, the key formative years for Xers. According to the study, people born between 1966 and 1975, a group that includes a lot of Gen Xers, lost around 5 IQ points on average. 

41. They were known as “latchkey kids.”

Woman holding keys in hand.
Gen X youth were called “latchkey kids.” / Kinga Krzeminska/Moment/Getty Images

One of the defining characteristics of Gen X was having parents who were working hard, and often. That left Gen X to fend for themselves after coming home from school, doing homework by themselves and often making their own meals. That led to another term for Gen X—the latchkey generation, because kids needed house keys to get back in their homes. There’s been debate over whether that lack of supervision may have affected education or other outcomes, but no strong evidence has ever indicated latchkey kids were at a disadvantage.

42. Some feel this independence benefited latchkey kids.

It may be just the opposite. There is a school of thought that says because latchkey kids, a.k.a. Gen Xers, were expected to be more independent at an earlier age, they might be made of sturdier stuff as an adult.

“[Being a latchkey kid] defines our generation as being resilient, as being self-starters in a way,” Gen Xer and president of the National Endowment for Financial Education, Dr. Billy Hensley, told Forbes in 2019. “We were the kids who came home, made ourselves a grilled cheese or, if we were not allowed to use the stove, grabbed a popsicle out of the fridge. We watched Saved by the Bell reruns and entertained ourselves. It shaped us in being resilient and being self-reliant.”

43. Gen X was stereotyped as “grumpy” and “lazy.”

Shot of feet in green and white socks up on a table
Gen X was often described as lazy. / Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman/Moment/Getty Images

If the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers were seen as can-do workers who helped the country prosper after World War II, Gen X was perceived as something else entirely. It wasn’t uncommon for people to characterize the group as being lazy and morose, possibly owing to the grunge aesthetic of the ‘90s. In 1990, Time magazine described twentysomethings, or as-yet-unnamed Gen Xers, as “lazy” and “passive.” Speaking with columnist Bob Greene in 1998, retail consultant Cynthia Cohen labeled Gen Xers as “grumpy” people who “tend to be sarcastic and cynical.”

“They are just not hopeful people, as a group … they believe they have a very, very sophisticated sense of humor. And people who are not optimistic, who are not happy with their lot in life, do not like to listen to other people’s problems.”

For these reasons, Cohen asserted that Gen Xers would fare poorly in customer service jobs. Specifically, she thought they’d make lousy flight attendants.

44. They don’t feel a sense of purpose at work.

On a potentially related note: According to MetLife’s Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study from 2019, Gen Xers were the least likely to say they felt a sense of purpose at work. They were also the generation least likely to define purpose as “doing work that contributes meaning to your life,” “Working on/for something that you are passionate about,” or “Creating value for your company/employer.”

45. Gen Xers may not be getting promoted as often.

Still, those perceptions of Gen X workers—and the crunch of being sandwiched between Boomers holding onto senior positions and Millennials pushing for career advancement—may stymie Gen X success in the workplace. While there’s obviously a great deal of variation, there does seem to be a discrepancy when it comes to promotion. According to a 2018 study, over a five-year period 66 percent of Gen X supervisors received one promotion or no promotion at all. Millennials and Boomers were more likely to have received at least two promotions over the same period of time.

46. Workplace stress could be contributing to Gen X divorces.

According to a 2024 survey by Headspace, 79 percent of Gen Xers report that stress related to their jobs ultimately ended their relationships—more than any other generation. 

47. Coca-Cola tried marketing to Gen X.

We know the stereotype of Gen X being listless, soft crybabies is an overgeneralization. Millions of them worked hard to get through college, start families, and give themselves financial stability. But that didn’t stop Coca-Cola from buying into their emo profile. In 1994, Coca-Cola introduced OK Soda, a soft drink packaged in somber gray cans with morose copy. Pick up a can and you could read a little not-so-inspiring message: “What’s the point of OK? Well, what’s the point of anything?” Or, “Don’t be fooled into thinking there has to be a reason for everything.”

Soda, or canned therapy session? Consumers weren’t sure, and the soda was discontinued around a year later. 

48. Gen X has a famously fraught relationship with consumerism and the concept of “selling out.” 

One film that dramatized that tension was Reality Bites. And though the movie is now considered an exemplar of its era, at least one star was firmly against calling it a “Gen X movie.” In a 1993 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Janeane Garofalo said, “They’re gonna try, probably, to market it as a generation X story, which is like the stupidest thing. It’s not.” 

49. Part of the generation’s supposed distaste for materialism is probably a matter of simple economics ... 

Thanks to a recession spanning 1990 and 1991, it’s possible some young people decided they weren’t interested in flashy brand names around the same time they realized they couldn’t afford them. 

50. … And that may have changed.

By 2012, in fact, American Express found that now-older Generation X was spending 18 percent more on luxury goods than their Baby Boomer predecessors

51. Gen X even has a favorite brand.

Apple
Gen X loves Apple. / Anadolu/GettyImages

At least, according to one 2021 poll they do: It’s Apple.

52. Gen X is like younger generations in their attitudes towards sex. 

At least in some ways: Unlike Boomers and elders (born in 1945 and before), less than half of Gen Xers “said sex was for uniting a man and a woman in marriage,” as Glamour summarized a 2016 survey.

53. Gen X is more promiscuous than other generations ... 

Still, there’s some meaningful deviation between Gen X and their younger peers when it comes to sex. Sexual promiscuity actually peaked with Gen X, as subsequent generations report having fewer sexual partners. 

54. … And they report having better sex.

Shot of feet entangled in bed
Gen X reports having better sex than other generations. / jeffbergen/E+/Getty Images

For what it’s worth, a higher percentage of Gen Xers self-reported having good sex lives, compared to Millennials, according to an international survey conducted by Viacom.

55. Gen X values sex over friendship. 

According to that same survey, members of Gen X value sex more highly than friendship—unlike their Millennial counterparts. And, for the record, the country in which Gen Xers were clearest in that preference was Hungary.

56. They have fewer friends than Millennials ...

Those preferences are somewhat borne out in the fact that the average member of Generation X reported having an average of 36 friends, which is 10 less than Millennials reported. 

57. … But they’re less lonely. 

It may be a case of quality over quantity: Gen Xers were 20 percent less likely to say they were lonely, compared to Millennials. 

58. Gen X helped bring in the fitness fads of the ‘80s.

Generation X was coming of age in the ‘80s. As a possible consequence of MTV, they were more interested in group fitness classes with enthusiastic and personable instructors—classes that were part exercise and part entertainment. The explosion of dance, Pilates, and indoor cycling classes can probably be traced to their zeal for colorful fitness, not just machines and weights.

59. Gen X likes their elliptical machines.

As the generation ages, their fitness habits may be changing. According to the Global Health and Fitness Association, 33 percent of health club members fall into the Gen X category. Their favorite activities? The elliptical bike, free weights, and other resistance machines. They also tended to remain gym members for a full year longer than the national average.

60. According to one study, Gen Xers have poorer health outcomes than Boomers.

That fitness enthusiasm probably helps, but it apparently wasn’t enough to outweigh countervailing forces in the United States. In fact, a 2021 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed Generation X suffering worse health outcomes than their Baby Boomer predecessors, with mental health and obesity two areas of concern.  

61. Gen X may not be big on cooking.

Rotisserie chicken over a fire
Gen X loves rotisserie chicken. / LauriPatterson/E+/Getty Images

According to flavor producer FONA, 73 percent of Gen X shoppers are in the habit of grabbing pre-made or pre-prepared food. They’re especially interested in rotisserie chickens. For what it’s worth, Gen X men report doing more cooking than their fathers.

62. They have particular tastes. 

Gen X likes meaty, cheesy flavors, with 10 percent fewer Xers interested in sweet foods than younger groups.

63. AARP is courting Gen X.

The AARP, formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons, advocates for quality of life for those over 50. Since an increasing number of Gen Xers are hitting that age, AARP has turned their promotional skills to enticing them with mementos from their past. A 2021 ad featured a middle-aged man skateboarding. Prior to that, they circulated a newsletter with hot ‘90s takes like how to throw an adult slumber party.

64. There’s never been a Gen X president.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama. / Bill Pugliano/GettyImages

Former president Barack Obama was born in 1961, so is he the first and only Gen X president? Not really. For one thing, the time frame for a Gen Xer in 2008 when he was elected was between 1964 and 1982, technically making him a Boomer. Obama actually said he identifies with something called “Generation Jones.” That’s a term coined by Jonathan Pontell, a social commentator who wanted a new branch for people who were born late in the Boomer cycle and a little too early in the Gen X cycle. The Jones refers to the relative anonymity of the group—we imagine you probably haven’t heard much about it—and the fact that the group was looking, or jonesing, for success.

To date, there hasn’t been a Gen X president. Let’s see what happens with future candidates and if any of them can credibly claim to have jammed out on a Sony Walkman as an ‘80s teen.

65. There are 23 Gen X senators as of early 2023. 

They include Oklahoma’s James Lankford and Georgia’s Raphael Warnock.

66. Over a third of the House of Representatives is made up of Gen Xers. 

Terri Sewell
Congresswoman Terri Sewell is a member of Gen X. / Jemal Countess/GettyImages

They span virtually the entire generation range, from Alabama’s Terri Sewell—born January 1, 1965—to Colorado’s Yadira Caraveo, whose birth came in just under the generational wire on December 23, 1980.  

67. According to one poll, many Gen Xers identify as politically independent.

In terms of the politics of Gen X, as a whole, it’s a bit tough to draw hard-and-fast conclusions, especially since political sentiments tend to shift with age. But according to a 2022 Gallup poll, 44 percent of Gen Xers identified as politically independent, representing a higher rate of nonpartisan identification than preceding generations.  

68. When it comes to voting habits in the U.S., it seems like that the group moved to the right over time. 

A Marist/NPR poll from May 2022 revealed that Generation X had the lowest overall approval rating for President Joe Biden. The head of a Democratic data firm, TargetSmart, concluded that Gen X was actually “the most conservative generation, surpassing the Boomers in their rightward tilt.”

69. American Gen Xers grew up during Republican presidencies. 

Ronald Reagan Giving Campaign Speech
Ronald Reagan. / Wally McNamee/GettyImages

In the States, many Gen Xers came of age during Republican presidential administrations, from Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush. 

70. Those political winds may have given rise to fictional characters like Family Ties’ Alex P. Keaton. 

The Federalist called the character (played by Michael J. Fox) “the first Gen X conservative.” Though Fox himself is actually a Boomer, his character was born in 1965, qualifying as an older member of Generation X.

71. In the UK, a similar conservative trend played out during Gen X’s formative years. 

England - Blackpool - Margaret Thatcher's last conference speech as Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher. / Richard Baker/GettyImages

Margaret Thatcher was the country’s prime minister throughout the entire ’80s, when Gen X would have been anywhere from infancy to their early twenties. That fact has given rise to the name “Thatcher’s children.” 

72. A lot of great rappers are Gen X.

Lil' Kim
Lil’ Kim. / KMazur/GettyImages

Rap music may have been invented by Boomers, but early luminaries from the genre often came from Gen X: KRS-One, Lil’ Kim, all of the original Wu-Tang Clan and the members of A Tribe Called Quest are part of the generation. So are genre-crossing icons like Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige. 

73. A number of famous Gen Xers died young.

River Phoenix
River Phoenix. / George Rose/GettyImages

As Alex Williams pointed out in a piece for The New York Times, the generation might have had an even larger cultural footprint if tragedy hadn’t intervened. Gen Xers who died too young include Tupac Shakur and the Notorious BIG, Jeff Buckley, Brandon Lee, Aaliyah, River Phoenix, and Kurt Cobain

74. The characters on the sitcom Friends were all Gen Xers.

Friends Television Stills Television
The cast of ‘Friends.’ / Getty Images/GettyImages

Or, at least, that generally seems to be the case. The Friends writers’ room was pretty flexible with birthdays over the run of the show. But the group’s uncanny ability to spend countless hours at a coffee shop might seem like a Gen X trait. Speciality coffee shops like Starbucks certainly proliferated throughout the United States in the 1990s, when many Gen Xers were young adults. 

75. Gen X seems to love their coffee.

For what it’s worth, though the data isn’t overwhelming (and doesn’t fit neatly into standard generational divides), the National Coffee Association’s report from Fall 2022 pegged 40-59 year-olds (most of whom would be considered Gen X) as the age group most likely to have consumed coffee in the past day. 

76. They’re gamers ...

If you’re wondering how members of Gen X entertain themselves, it turns out, they’re not too different from their younger counterparts. A study from 2021 shows that about 60 percent of Gen Xers are “gamers.” This is compared to 77 percent of Millennials and 81 percent of Gen Z. 

77. … and play video games for several hours every week.

The average amount of time playing video games a week for Gen X? About four and a half hours. This is nearly double the playtime of Baby Boomers, who clocked in about two and a half hours.

Shot of man holding phone playing crossword
Gen X is into games on their phone. / Catherine Falls Commercial/Moment/Getty Images

78. They like to play games on their phones. 

The main difference in gaming tendencies seems to be the motivation behind playing. A majority of Gen X gamers play mobile games, and many of them regard gaming simply as a method to fill time. But there’s still a fair number of people who consider themselves real gaming fans, if not all out fanatics.

79. They spend lots of time on social media …

According to a 2023 report by McKinsey, 49 percent of Gen Xers spend between 10 minutes and an hour on social media every day, while 17 percent report spending between one and two hours on social media, and 17 percent saying they spend more than two hours on social platforms. Twelve percent clock less than 10 minutes a day, while 5 percent say they don’t use social media at all. 

80. … And post fairly frequently.

Ten percent of Gen Xers report posting on social media multiple times a day; 18 percent daily; and 22 percent every other day or weekly.   

81. Gen Xers watched a specific genre during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the pandemic, Gen Xers kept themselves occupied by watching dramas more than any other genre of television. They watched animation the least.

82. They don’t spend all their time looking at screens, of course. 

Hands holding book up in the air
Gen X is a fan of reading. / Jerome Tisne/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Penguin Random House took the liberty of compiling a list of quintessential Gen X books. Here are some highlights: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, Palm Sunday by Kurt Vonnegut, Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, The Firm by John Grisham, and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. (Those books apparently appealed to Gen X readers, but they weren’t necessarily written by members of the generation.)

83. Gen X likes to be outside.

Gen X is the generation most likely to spend at least one hour outdoors per day, with 39 percent reporting they did so in 2021.

84. They don’t care about crypto ... 

According to one study, the vast majority of crypto buyers are young. A whopping 94 percent of the crypto-trading pie is made up of people aged 18–40. Gen X makes up less than 5 percent of crypto buyers.

85. … But when they buy crypto, they spend more. 

When a member of Gen X does buy crypto, they spend, on average, more than any other generation. Their rough average is about nine and a half thousand spent over 12 months, compared to, say, the 6000 spent by Gen Z.

86. Gen X loves Josh wine.

A worker pouring wine into a glass during the Essence of...
Gen X is into wine—specifically, Josh wine. / SOPA Images/GettyImages

According to Drizly, the top-selling wine among Gen X consumers was a cabernet sauvignon from Josh Cellars. 

87. Data from the UK suggests that Gen X engages in more extreme drinking behavior than overall trends would suggest. 

As Bobby Duffy, who wrote Generations: Does When You’re Born Shape Who You Are? said, “In terms of risky drinking, there’s a really strong Office for National Statistics chart, a bulge going through the age range that more or less tracks Generation X.”

88. They also seem to use tobacco products more than other generations. 

According to a GlobalData consumer survey from 2021, Gen X respondents were the most likely to use tobacco products regularly and the least likely to have never tried them. 

89. They pray ... 

Shot of hands of a person with fingers interlaced on an open Bible.
Many members of Gen X pray every day. / krisanapong detraphiphat/Moment/Getty Images

Let’s pray those unhealthy habits die off as the generation enters their older years. Or, we can leave the praying to Gen X itself—more than half of them pray daily, according to Pew Research.

90. … And many believe in God. 

Eighty-four percent of Gen Xers say they are fairly certain or absolutely certain that God exists—but only about a third of them attend religious services at least once a week. 

91. They tend to stick with the religion they were raised in.

While Baby Boomers often tended towards religious disaffiliation—that is, being raised in a religious tradition but then abandoning it later in life—a 2010 study found that Gen Xers who were raised with a specific religion were more likely to persist in that faith into adulthood. Because fewer of those adults were raised with religion to begin with, though, their overall religiosity is lower than their predecessors. 

92. They’re excited about virtual reality—to a point.

When it comes to the technology of the future, Gen X differs a bit from their younger counterparts. Both Gen Z and Millennials ranked virtual reality as one of the more exciting technology advances in the workplace, while Gen X were a little more grounded. They’re looking forward to utilizing new project management tools, and in certain countries like Japan and Russia, their enthusiasm spreads to cloud computing and e-learning programs as well, according to the Harvard Business Review.

93. Gen X was the first generation to have more women with bachelor’s degrees than men. 

By 2001, 31 percent of Gen X women between the ages of 25 and 37 had completed a bachelor’s degree program, compared to 28 percent of Gen X men. Boomers and members of the Silent Generation had the opposite tendency, with men outpacing women in college education. 

94. In 2021, approximately 4.2 percent of Gen X adults identified as belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. 

Those Gen Xers, along with Millenials and Gen Zers, are also more likely to identify as bisexual than their older counterparts. 

95. Gen X is more philanthropic than other generations of adults. 

At least when it comes to their time—in 2018, approximately 30 percent reported that they volunteered through an organization. About 26 percent of Boomers reported volunteering in that same year, and only 22 percent of Millennials did.

96. Gen X got their own museum exhibit.

If you’re a Gen Xer starting to feel the pinch of approaching old age, this last fact isn’t going to help. In 2023, the Illinois State Museum had a temporary exhibition titled “Growing Up X.” To quote the museum, it “explores the toys, technologies and cultural touchstones surrounding Gen Xers in their childhood.” 

97. Generation X had amazing public service announcements.

If you were a teen in the 1970s or 1980s, there was danger everywhere. Drug danger. Teen pregnancy danger. Stranger danger. As a result, there was a surplus of public service announcements, or PSAs, that recruited everyone from Pee-wee Herman to Captain America to lecture—we mean, warn—about high-risk activity. “This is drugs,” one commercial narrator intoned as an egg hit a sizzling frying pan. “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

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A version of this article was originally published in 2022; the current version, which has been updated for 2024, is adapted from an episode of The List Show on YouTube. Subscribe for new videos every week.