Generational Advantage

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint” (Hesiod, 8th century BC)

Every generation worries/complains about the next.  Part of that is likely a result of the older generation having more experience and a different perspective when they view the younger group.  Maybe part of the compliant results from a natural trend toward social luxury and affluence.

But each generation has their characteristics and strengths.  We might even think that the general characteristics for each generation is influenced by the conditions during development, and so a result of our parents, whether intentional or accidental.

This graph from Wikipedia showing the birthrate in the USA per 1000 population, with the baby boomer births highlighted in red.  Although not the highest birthrate on the chart, earlier times in history experienced higher infant and child mortality rates.  So that the overall population impact was significant.  The size of the boomer generation created significant competition for that group, which greatly influenced their esperience.  The growing generation allowed for the Social Security plan based on a pyramid, where a continually increasing workforce can support the number of retirees.  They also demanded more homes, cares, good, and other goods to be produced brought which pumped up the economy.  If future generations diminish in size, and we need less stuff, that seems to have a significant drag on the economy these days.  We find the following generations face many challenges trying to achieve the same lifestyle and success as the baby boomer generations.


Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers combines the work of many researchers to show how success is highly influenced by our surrounding conditions.  One example given the is the phenomenon that many hockey players have birthdays in January and February because tryouts for kids in Canada have a 1 January cutoff, so the older kids have more development and strength to make the teams.   A second example discusses comparative success of Mort Janklow compared to his father;  given that both men were self motivated, entrepreneur type people, Gladwell attributes the son’s success to social conditions of his generation (being born in NYC in the 1930 during a birthrate drop).  The son had less competition in life, and fewer setbacks that the father experienced; such as the depression and participating in WWI.  This example shows how social context greatly influences the general experience for each generation.

Today’s Gen Xers and Gen Yers are struggling through the wake of the Baby Boomers success, and struggling to meet the expectations of previous generations in the workplace.

Generation Size in the USA (varies according to dates used):

These dates ranges listed below for these generations vary according to the source you check. 

  • Silent/Traditional Generation (20 yrs) – <50,000,000
  • Baby Boomers (18 yrs) – 76,000,000
  • Generation X (16 yrs) – 88,000,000
  • Generation Y (18 yrs) – <70,000,000


“The Silent Generation (Traditionalists) born 1925 through 1945, is the generation that includes those who were too young to join the service during World War II. Many had fathers who served in World War I. Generally recognized as the children of the Great Depression, this event during their formative years had a profound impact on them.” -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Loyal
  • Hardworking
  • Submissive
  • Traditional

“A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom between the years 1946 and 1964, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The term “baby boomer” is sometimes used in a cultural context.” -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Work-Centric
  • Independent
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Competitive

Generation X (also known as the 13th Generation and the Baby Busters) is the generation generally defined as those born after the baby boom ended, from 1965 to 1981″ -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Individualistic
  • Tech Savvy
  • Flexible
  • Values Work/Life Balance

“Generation Y, the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), Generation Next, Net Generation, Echo Boomers, describes the generation following Generation X from probably 1981 to 1999. As there are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s (decade).” -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Tech Savvy
  • Family-Centric
  • Achievement Oriented
  • Team Oriented
  • Attention Craving

There are a lot of articles discussing workplace issues relating to generations X and Y, use your favorite search engine to find ones that helps you for your cooperation needs.


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