Generational Differences: Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Generation Y Comparison

Generations grow up with different beliefs and perspectives.  The conditions of the economy, the state of the world, technology, and social trends all impact the overall behavior of the generation.  For Generation Y, it is a return to traditional values, a strong sense of community and diversity, and an emphasis on technology, information, and education.

Let’s take a look at a comparison between the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1976/1981), and Generation Y (1977/1982-1995/2001).  Please keep in mind these are generalized observations taken from a different article (see below):

Level of trust toward authority

  • Boomers are confident of self, not authority.
  • Gen Xers have a low level of trust toward authority.
  • Millennials have a high level of trust toward authority. Yet they are less trustworthy of individual people. Perhaps it’s from being born into an age of terrorism or maybe it’s their overprotective parents or the danger-obsessed media.

What do they view as the ultimate reward?

  • Boomers want a prestigious title and the corner office.
  • Gen Xers want the freedom not to have to do something.
  • Millennials prefer meaningful work.

How were their parents with them?

  • Boomers had parents who were controlling.
  • Gen Xers parents were distant.
  • Millennials? Their parents were intruding. Or, as my Millennial-age intern tells me, they have “helicopter parents”—they’re always hovering.

What are their views toward having children?

  • Boomers are controlled, their children were planned.
  • Gen Xer’s are doubtful about the possibility of becoming parents.
  • Millennials are definite about parenthood. In fact, they view marriage and parenthood as more important than careers and success.

And overall family life?

  • Boomers were indulged as children.
  • Gen Xers were alienated as children.
  • Millennials were protected as children.

Views toward education?

  • Boomers want freedom of expression.
  • Gen Xers are pragmatic.
  • Millennials need the structure of accountability.

Political orientation

  • Thankfully, boomers want to attack oppression. Without those views we might not have had civil rights or protested Vietnam.
  • Gen Xers are apathetic and more worried about the individual.
  • And the Millennials, the facebookers and Tweeters? It should be no surprise that they crave community.

Last but not least, the views on the big question...

  • Boomers want to know, “What does it mean?”
  • Gen Xers need to know, “Does it work?”
  • Millennials are curious to know, “How do we build it?”

Please read the full post here.

Where Do You Prefer to Live?

Generation Y, do you prefer to live in an urban environment, in the suburbs of a city, or in rural areas?  Please respect the integrity of the poll and vote only if you are an echo boomer.  Feel free to join in the discussion in the comments and on the forum.

Where Do You Prefer to Live?

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Generation Y Attitudes

Here is a snapshot of the attitude of Generation Y taken from a previous post.  Please keep in mind that this is a blanket generalization for an entire generation and shouldn’t be taken as anything more than an observed trend of a large populace.

Attitude/Behavior of Gen Y:

  • Raised as consumers in a media saturated, brand conscious world
  • Fostered a distrustful and cynical view of advertising as a whole – prefers trust, irony, and humor.
  • Parallel (rather than linear) thinkers
  • Apt to begin tasks randomly – perhaps in the middle – as opposed to a traditional starting point
  • Graphics oriented, see text as supporting visual material
  • Thrive on change and variety.
  • Demand quick, if not instant, gratification
  • Upbeat, confident, and assertive with high self esteem
  • Optimistic
  • Independent and self-reliant: Used to doing it (and many other things) themselves
  • Multi-taskers
  • Asserting their “intellectual authority” over parents, teachers, employers because they are more techno-savvy and capable of accessing greater breadth of information quickly.
  • High value for education – strive to continue education through life
  • Motivated and Goal-Oriented
  • Diverse and Tolerant
  • Strong dislike for racism in any form, sexism and homophobia
  • High in Volunteerism
  • Invest in the social and community causes
  • What do Gen Yers value most in life? Family, traditional values, country, planet
  • Unlike the Baby Boomer generation, Gen Yers value things other than income and status as being primary in life
  • Desire to work in highly motivated and committed teams
  • Need to be challenged – look for opportunities for growth, education, apprenticeship
  • Up to 20% of their time is spent alone
  • Includers – they make people feel welcome and involved
  • Lofty financial goals – remember they are spenders!
  • Trained to be “Doers and Achievers”
  • Limited Employer loyalty – Jobs for life are replaced with short-term contracts
  • 1 in 5 Gen Y women will choose to remain childless

Read the full post HERE.

Generation Y Demographics

A snapshot summary of the demographics of Generation Y, the echo boom of the baby boomers.  Please keep in mind that this is a blanket generalization for an entire generation and shouldn’t be taken as anything more than an observed trend of a large populace.

Demographics of Gen Y

  • Born from 1977-2001 (estimated – majority between 82 and 94)
  • Aka. Echo Boomers or Millennials
  • Children of Baby Boomers, some children of Gen X
  • Oldest holding entry level positions in workforce; youngest in elementary/middle school
  • Nearly 80 million in population (larger than the baby boomer population of 72 million)
  • Ethnically diverse (34% are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American)
  • One in four live in single–parent households
  • 75% have working mothers
  • Highest level of education compared to previous generations.
  • Women may have a higher salary than men due to college admission rates in favor of women.
  • College graduates graduate with an average of $20k-30k debt.
  • Recession impacting Generation Y income – education, debt, high cost of living causing many to return to school, struggle to find jobs, and/or live with family/friends.

Read the full post HERE.

The Echo Boom Statistics

Below is an outline on the characteristics of members of the echo boom, Generation Y, the echo boomers.  Keep in mind that this is a generalization, an observed concept, and not a conclusive description.  Not all echo boomers will identify with this, but it might demonstrate overall trends.

Demographics of Gen Y

  • Born from 1977-2001 (estimated)
  • Aka. Echo Boomers or Millennials
  • Children of Baby Boomers, some children of Gen X
  • Oldest holding entry level positions in workforce; youngest in elementary/middle school
  • Nearly 80 million in population (larger than the baby boomer population of 72 million)
  • Ethnically diverse (34% are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American)
  • One in four live in single–parent households
  • 75% have working mothers

Consumer Profile

  • The next dominant generation of Americans.
  • Gen Y population will be 32% of total population.
  • Average weekly spending by teenagers = $84 per week ($57 of own; $27 or parents)
  • Annually: $25B of own money and influence another $187B in purchases
  • 66% have savings accounts; 22% have checking accounts; 18% have their own stocks and bonds
  • Dollar savvy with adult buying habits and sophisticated tastes (clothing, dining, recreation)
  • Majority grew up in dual income families
  • Raised as consumers in a media saturated, brand conscious world
  • Fostered a distrustful and cynical view of advertising as a whole
  • Marketing is most effective as unvarnished truth, irony and humor.
  • Likely to support “cause-related” marketing (83% willing to switch brands for a good cause if price and quality were equal)

Technology

  • Get news on the latest and greatest, what’s hot and up-to-the-minute cool from the Internet – their primary media vehicle
  • 1/3 of life on the Internet
  • The average echo boomer has at least 2 email addresses.
  • First generation to grow up with computers in the home.
  • Email is preferred form of communication along with text messaging and instant messaging.
  • Enjoy tech gadgets (video games, cell phones, mp3 players.

How do Gen Yers think?

  • Conceptual Abilities
  • Parallel (rather than linear) thinkers
  • Higher input/output
  • Apt to begin tasks randomly – perhaps in the middle – as opposed to a traditional starting point
  • Graphics oriented, see text as supporting visual material
  • Thrive on change and variety.
  • Demand quick, if not instant, gratification

Sociological

  • Upbeat, confident, and assertive with high self esteem
  • Optimistic
  • Independent and self-reliant: Used to doing it (and many other things) themselves
  • Multi-taskers
  • Asserting their “intellectual authority” over parents, teachers, employers because they are more techno-savvy and capable of accessing greater breadth of information quickly.
  • High value for education
  • 90% of HS seniors expect to attend college
  • Strive to continue education through life
  • Motivated and Goal-Oriented
  • Diverse and Tolerant
  • Strong dislike for racism in any form, sexism and homophobia
  • High in Volunteerism
  • Invest in the social and community causes
  • What do Gen Yers value most in life? Family, traditional values, country, planet
  • Unlike the Baby Boomer generation, Gen Yers value things other than income and status as being primary in life

Work Behaviors

  • Desire to work in highly motivated and committed teams
  • Need to be challenged – look for opportunities for growth, education, apprenticeship
  • Strive to work hard and do well
  • Up to 20% of their time is spent alone
  • Includers – they make people feel welcome and involved
  • Lofty financial goals – remember they are spenders!
  • Trained to be “Doers and Achievers”
  • Limited Employer loyalty – Jobs for life are replaced with short-term contracts
  • May have many different “careers” and diverse education/background
  • 1 in 5 will be self employed
  • Old age postponed by “senior participation”
  • 1 in 5 Gen Y women will choose to remain childless

Marketing Preferences:

Sell a lifestyle based on trust and emotion – not a product.  McD’s now playing Hip Hop music and not talking about their juicy burgers. Why? Selling lifestyle: diversity is key and everyone looks like they are having fun with friends while eating at McDs – it’s about lifestyle.  Those who might not like McDonald’s may not like it because they prefer a different lifestyle – perhaps a healthier lifestyle?

  • Brand conscious – seek to figure it out what brand aligns with their preferences, lifestyle, standards
  • Prefer directness over subtlety, action over observation, cool
  • It’s not about reaching the masses; it’s about building a community.  Gen Y is community based.  Rely on reviews, word of mouth.
  • Jones Soda: their website urges fans to send in photos for possible use on their labels. The odds of actually getting selected are low – only 40 are picked each year – but the lure is irresistible because it is interactive. Jones creates an emotional connection. Gen Yers buy Jones Soda not because they are thirsty, but because they want to make a fashion statement…drinking Jones makes you cool!
  • Social networking is a tool created by Gen Y to reinforce their communal thinking and a soap box for spreading ideas/preferences through word of mouth.

These statistics in full detail can be found at Who Are the Gen Y Students, a presentation performed by Jessica Morgan at a Student Affairs retreat for California State – Chico.

Is Online Privacy a Concern for You?

Generation Y is on the front lines of a growing privacy issue online. How concerned are you about your degree of online privacy? Do you believe it isn’t a big deal and feel that the internet brings about a new era of transparency, or does the availability of information online leave you paranoid? Please respect the integrity of the poll and vote only if you are from Generation Y. Feel free to join in the conversation on the forums even if you are not an echo boomer.

Is Privacy a Concern for You Online?

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How to Make a Household Budget

It is important for Generation Y to practice good financial responsibility.  Echo boomers were taught that getting an education and a good job would allow us to live comfortably.  However, that American dream is no longer a reality, so its important to be intelligent in your financial decisions.

Its really simple to create a quick and easy household budget and it gives you an idea on where you stand financially.  There is essentially three things you need to worry about:

  1. Income
  2. Static Expenses
  3. Discretionary ExpensesBudget

Income is the money you make.  It can be your job, investments, or even something as simple as your parent’s lending you some money.  This is how much money you make – and you shouldn’t be spending more than this amount.

Static expenses are things that you have to pay every month.  For most people, this may include rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, utilities, etc.  These, for the most part, cannot be sacrificed unless you need to cut back.

Discretionary expenses are those little extra things in life that you can do without.  This would include monthly amounts spent on going out to the movies, eating out, alcohol, and clothes.  We need SOME discretionary spending in our lives to keep our sanity, but its best to keep it at a minimum.

So, what’s next?  Start out by opening a spreadsheet and listing out your income and all your expenses.  How does it add up?  Is the total a positive or a negative number?  If you are spending more than you make, you need to take a look at making more money, trimming down your bills (do you need HBO?  can you use less air conditioning? etc), and/or cutting out discretionary spending (stop going out to eat, packing lunches, etc)

Let’s take a look at an example:

Monthly Income: $2000

Rent: -$1000

Electricity: -$100

Student Loans: -$300

Cable/Internet: -$100

Car Payment: -$500

Car Insurance: -$100

Groceries: -$200

Going out to Lunch: -$100

Clothes: -$100

Total: -$500

Whoa, that budget is negative! What is wrong with this picture?  There are a few obvious things that can be tweaked to put this fellow back onto their feet again and put some money into that savings account.  Here are some tips:Pennies

  • Your mortgage/rent should be between 25%-35% of your monthly income including utilities.  This person exceeds 50%!  That needs to be trimmed down right away!  Move ASAP.
  • Your car payment should be between 0-20% of your monthly income including insurance.  This person is spending 30%!  They need an affordable car so they aren’t in such a rough spot.
  • Discretionary spending can be limited.  Set a budget of only spending $50 a month eating out and $50 on clothes.
  • Set aside around 10% of your income to savings.  You should ALWAYS be saving money.  The only exception is if you have debt.  Then, it is more important to pay that down.

Let us take a look at the revised budget after making the above changes:

Monthly Income: $2000

Rent: -$500

Electricity: -$100

Student Loans: -$300

Cable/Internet: -$100

Car Payment: -$150

Car Insurance: -$100

Groceries: -$200

Going out to Lunch: -$50

Clothes: -$50

Total: $450

Wow, that makes a difference.  The person went from being negative to having a surplus of $450 every month.  $200 of that should go into savings every month and the other $250 can be used however the person sees fit.  Put more into savings, pay down the student debt, or go have some fun with that money.  Its okay with spending money – just be smart about it!

Make the Most of College: 10 Tips to Make College Worthwhile

  1. Find the right college.  Yes, before you even get there, make sure you go to a college that fits you as an individual.  Not only is this imperative to get the education you want, but also the sanity you deserve.  Going to the wrong college can lead to mental breakdowns, a depressing four years, and an education that gets you nowhere in life other than thousands of dollars of debt.  If you are an city-loving, artsy student, it might not be a good idea to go to the rural, jock school.   If you are the party loving extrovert, you might not want to go to the small, technical school.  Think about it beyond the reputation.10 College Tips
  2. Make friends.  Its almost impossible not to, but make sure you make a lot of friends at college.  This extends beyond finding a drinking buddy or dating the girl from Biology – this is also about making contacts for professional growth.  Yes, you can still go drink with them, but these are the future leaders of tomorrow.  Make sure you connect with your peers since they may be helping you land a job in the future.
  3. Participate in extracurricular activities.  Another easy one.  This one is imperative for not only personal growth, but professional growth.  Your education only takes you so far and its up to you to do step outside the realm of what is required and pursue constructive activities in your free time.  Make sure you find time to experience a variety of opportunity while at college: join a club, join a fraternity/sorority, volunteer for a philanthropy, etc.  Don’t go overboard, but not only will this develop character, but could help land an internship/job down the road.
  4. Enroll in random, interesting classes.  Taking classes outside of your major is growing in importance across America.  Employers want well rounded individuals and this well help you get there.  Have a technical major?  Take a creative writing class.  Have an interest in fish?  Take an Oceanography class.  Trust me, it will help you in your field of study more than you know.
  5. Choose a useful major.  Yes, you can do whatever you want when you grow up, but taking the time and money to go to college is an investment.  Make sure you make something of the investment – choose a major that will help you get a job that you want and pay the bills post-graduation.  Taking on $100k loans and majoring in Photography isn’t the best idea.  A dual major as Photography and Journalism would be a better choice.
  6. Pick up a minor.  While many students are focusing on figuring out what major they want to declare, you should also be deciding what minors to take along with it.  Don’t worry – you don’t need to figure this out on day 1.  However, once you figure out which direction you want to go, it is highly recommended to find a minor that compliments it.
  7. Experience different cultures, foods, races, religions, and perspectives.  One nice thing about college is that it gives you an opportunity to meet a lot of new, different people.  The world is a diverse place that extends beyond the bubble confines of your childhood.  Take the time to learn about it.Graduate Make friends from different cultures and try at least one type of foreign food before graduation day.
  8. Learn important lifestyle habits.  You are on your own now.  Make sure you develop habits that carry over well to the real world.  This involves eating healthy, exercising, getting good nights rest, being punctual, practicing good hygiene, and being mature about any “experimentation” that might be going on.  I’m not saying to go drinking, but if you do – be smart about it.
  9. Manage your money.  Squeaking by on Ramen Noodles and saving up enough for a weekend bar crawl is more educational than you think.  Financial responsibility is huge.  Try not to rely on your parents bailing you out.  Try not to take on massive amounts of credit card debt.  Even a ridiculous decision such as skipping a meal to afford happy hour later is providing a life lesson – much better than just throwing it all on a credit card.
  10. Get an internship and job.  College is a lot of fun, but make sure you remember the point of it all – its for a career.  The best thing you can do is to get yourself an internship over your summer breaks.  The more internships the better, but you should try to get at least one.  More importantly, make sure you get a job lined up for post-graduation as soon as you can.  The worst thing you can do is graduate unemployed.  Best case scenario is to start off with a decent resume and a few job offers before Christmas break senior year.
  11. Have fun.  Be mature and responsible, but let loose.  This is the best four years of your life guaranteed.  Don’t let it pass you up.

When Did Gen Y Begin?

Generation Y began in 1977-1982.  It is not black and white, it is a shaded gray area.  Some people in this time frame will identify with Generation X while others may identify with Generation Y.  It mostly depends on their parents, friends, and childhood upbringing.

The peak of Generation Y was from 1982-1993.  Nearly all of the people born in this range are true echo boomers.

From 1993-2001, Generation Y trails off and starts fading into Generation Z the same way Generation X faded into Generation Y from 1977-1982.  It is an exponential slope, so those born closer to 1993 (until 1995 or so) will be more likely to identify with Generation Y.  From 1995-2001, if they were the younger siblings of a true echo boomer they may be more inclined to declare themselves from Generation Y, while some who have Generation X parents and/or without older brothers and sister may identify more with Generation Z.

Generation Y Changing the Way We Watch Movies

Echo boomers are changing the way we view TV and movies. The same day Blockbuster, a 25 year old movie rental store, declares bankruptcy (link), Netflix, a 13 year old online movie rental company, declares it will be focusing on streaming content online (link).

Netflix on WiiThis is another example of the shift away from physical forms of media and the movement towards digital methods, a revolution with Generation Y at the front lines. Like music albums, the shift towards online content is only a matter of time – mostly a matter of the method of how it is delivered to the user. Netflix is innovative in that department. Utilizing people’s computers, and more importantly, video game consoles such as the Wii, they can deliver movies and TV shows directly to your TV for a cheap rate less than $10 a month while lowering their company’s overhead.

Cable companies, take note. It is only a matter of time before companies that deliver media in new, innovative, on demand ways, will be breathing down your throat.

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