Generation names and age spans are defined somewhat differently depending on country and/or region. Roughly speaking, the following generation names and age spans are considered "global" generations:
Baby Boomers: 1946–19641
Generation X: 1965–19802
Millennials: After 19803
By 2025, Millennials Will Comprise Three-Quarters of the Global Workforce4
- People between the ages 15 to 24 make up almost 20% of the world’s population.5
- They account for more than 15% of the global labor force.6
Australia's Population Is Aging7
- In 2012, 19% of the population was 15 or younger.8
- This is projected to decrease to 15–18% in 2061.9
- This is projected to decrease to 15–18% in 2061.9
- In 2012, 14% of the population was 65 or older.10
- This is projected to increase to 22% by 2061.11
Canada Has One of the Highest Percentages of Working-Age People of All G8 Countries12
In 2016, 67.4% of Canada’s population was working-age (15–64).13
Canada has an aging population due to increased life span and decreased birth rates.14
20.7% of those employed in Canada are just 55 or older.15
The EU's Workforce Is Shrinking16
Millennials are the European Union’s minority population.17
The population of the very old (80 years or older), is projected to double by 2080 (from 5.3% in 2015 to 12.3% in 2080) in the European Union (EU).18
The retirement-age population will be larger than the working-age population in the coming decades.19
- The working-age population is expected to continue to decline through 2050.20
- As the population ages and the workforce shrinks, the EU will face economic challenges to the social model, welfare systems, and economic growth.21
By 2020, Over One-Third of India’s Population Will Be Between the Ages of 15-34 Years Old22
- A major barrier to India benefitting from a demographic dividend (growing youth population) is the low labor force participation of women.23
Japan Is a “Super-Ageing” Society24
- More than 27% of Japan’s total population was 65 or older in 2016.25
- Women 75 and older comprised over 15% of the total population in 2016.26
- By 2050 over 35% of Japan’s population is projected to be 65 or older.27
Millennials Are Now the Largest Living Generation in the United States28
- Millennials were one-quarter (83.1 million) of the total population and exceeded the population of Baby Boomers (75.4 million) in 2015.29
- By 2020, Millennials will account for one in three adults.30
In 2015, one-third of all working-age people were Millennials.31
As Millennials continue to graduate from college that number will increase.32
- By 2025, Millennials will account for three-quarters of working-age people.33
Despite the Increase in Millennials’ Representation, the Overall US Population Continues to Grow Older
The population of older Americans is expected to more than double by 2060.34
- In 2016, 61.8% of those 55-64 years old were employed.35
- 18.6% of those 65 years old and over were employed.36
- 77.9% of those aged 25-54 years old were employed in 2016.37
The population of working-age adults is expected to decrease by 5% by 2060.38
Millennials Are Increasingly Likely to be Foreign-Born With a First Language Other Than English39
In 2014, 25% of Millennials spoke a language other than English at home.40
As of 2013, the number of foreign-born people age 18 to 34 has increased 150% since 1980 (from 6% to 15%).41
Catalyst, Revealing the Real Millennials: New York: Catalyst, (March 2, 2015).
Catalyst, Revealing the Real Millennials: Successes and Aspirations: New York: Catalyst (May 6, 2015).
Catalyst, Revealing the Real Millennials: Career Expectations: New York: Catalyst (July 13, 2015).
Pew Research Center, “Millennials.”
How to cite this product: Catalyst. Catalyst Quick Take: Generations in the Workplace. New York: Catalyst, July 20, 2017.
There is no one correct name for my generation, but there are names that are more commonly used than others, with the most popular being Millennials and Gen Y. In fact, Gen Y has gone by many different names as our generational characteristics become more pronounced. I often use the term Gen Y because I’ve found people naturally know the demographic I’m referring to is the one born immediately following Gen X. It’s also important to note that in different parts of the world where I work, people use different generational names entirely, or the concept of generations is not as well known as looking at life stage or other commonalities based on age. Based on our research and on-site work, Millennials is the more common term in the U.S. and Gen Y is the more common term globally.
2.) When was Gen Y born?
After extensive research, The Center for Generational Kinetics defines Generation Y–aka Millennials–as those born between 1977 and 1995. This is based on the factors that shape a generation and sequential generational defining moments. These birth years are also most applicable to the U.S. and North America. However, there is no catchall answer with birth years because generations are clues, not a box. A person born five years before or after the stated beginning or ending of a generation can exhibit all or most of the characteristics of that generation. These people are often referred to as “cuspers.” Also, if your parents are much older than typical parents of people your age, or you lived in a different country growing up than where you reside now, you may not share the characteristics of people your age who were born and raised where you live today. In my presentations, I explain why this happens, what shapes a generation, and how generational interactions affect every aspect of our lives—from the workplace and marketplace to our family dynamics.
3.) How Large is Gen Y?
Using the birth year range of 1977 to 1995, Gen Y consists of approximately 79.8 million people in the U.S. We are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace and marketplace. Globally, we are the emerging adult population that is gradually exerting more influence due to our sheer numbers, expected longevity and hyper-connectivity.
4.) What are Gen Y’s most defining characteristics?
Below are a few key characteristics of Gen Y and Millennials that are in contrast with other generations in the workplace and society. You can read a complete list and generation breakdown in my book Y-Size Your Business.
Gen Y often has a feeling of entitlement. However, that is not true for everyone in my generation. In fact, we are witnessing a dislocation between the Gen Yers and Millennials who have their stuff together and those who are struggling to gain real-world traction.
Gen Y is NOT tech-savvy. We are tech-dependent. We often don’t know how technology actually works, only that we can’t live without it.
Gen Y loves instant gratification. We are notorious for not being able to wait in line—especially when getting coffee!
Gen Y is known for having big expectations but not always knowing or valuing the steps involved to reach those expectations.
In my presentations, I explain the critical characteristics that most impact our workplace mindset and marketplace habits, along with answering the two big questions: How in the world did Gen Y get this way? And what does this mean for our future and your business goals?
Get Speaking Info
5.) If you were to tell me one thing about Gen Y that most people don’t know, what would it be?
Gen Y is the only generation in the workforce that has never expected to work for one company their entire lives. You might be surprised to discover the actual length of employment Gen Y equates with being a loyal employee. Even more shocking: The number of days it takes for Gen Y to decide if they can stay with an employer long-term. Hint: Watch my YouTube videos for the surprising answer.
No way! Generations are not a box. Instead they present powerful clues on where to start to faster connect with and influence people of different ages. There are so many factors that go into shaping an individual’s experience, which is why everyone is unique. However, on the whole, those within a generation often exhibit surprisingly similar characteristics. These similarities allow leaders the opportunity to adapt to achieve greater results in less time, at less expense and with less risk. This creates a win/win for every generation.
7.) Can Gen Y actually become loyal, hard-working, reliable employees?
Absolutely! Companies and organizations struggle when they solely rely on employment strategies that worked well in the past but are not a fit for Gen Y. While I’ve never visited a company that does everything right when it comes to employing Gen Y and Millennials, I have observed companies throughout the world that have solved different pieces of the Gen Y employment puzzle. The workforce research we’ve led and that I’ve seen proves that Gen Y can become valuable, loyal, high-performing employees. What’s most interesting is that these high-value outcomes are not tied to compensation. One key thing to know: In the workplace, you can expect Gen Y to move toward older generations. This is natural and to be expected. In the marketplace, this simply isn’t going to happen. In my presentations, I explain why and what this means for marketers and salespeople.
8.) Aren’t we catering to Gen Y by helping them with lessons we learned the hard way?
I am 100 percent against catering to or coddling Gen Y. Giving in to our whims only reinforces the worst characteristics we bring to the workplace and creates a disconnect with the other generations already there. The bottom line is that every new generation that enters the workforce frustrates the ones already there, and each generation assumes the one after them has it easier than they did. My approach is to find specific ways to bridge the generations so Gen Y and our three generations of co-workers perform at our highest levels. It’s in every leader’s best interest to make the most of each generation. Gen Y is simply the new kid on the block.
9.) What birth years do you use when defining the other three generations?
Generation X: Born approximately 1965 – 1977
Baby Boomers: Born approximately 1946 – 1964
Traditionalists: Born approximately pre-1946
10.) What will the generation after Gen Y and Millennials be called?
iGen. You can check out my thoughts about their emergence on our iGen page. They are going to rock the workplace and the marketplace—and all while using their phones for everything but talking.
For more generational information, visit our Gen Info page. There, you can watch free webinars, TV interviews and read our latest how-to action papers.
Email or call my team at The Center for Generational Kinetics if you have a Millennials or Gen Y question.
Our passion is solving tough generational challenges.
Your Gen Y Guy,
+1 512- 259-6877
Get Speaking Info