Generation X has a gripe with pulse takers, zeitgeist keepers and population counters. This overlooked generation currently ranges in age from 34 to 49, which may be one reason they’re so often missing from stories about demographic, social and political change.
They’re smack in the middle innings of life, which tend to be short on drama and scant of theme.
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And in most of the ways we take stock of generations – their racial and ethnic makeup; their political, social and religious values; their economic and educational circumstances; their technology usage – Gen Xers are a low-slung, straight-line bridge between two noisy behemoths. To be fair, there are a few metrics that don’t fit this straightforward pattern of generational evolution.
For example, over the course of their voting lives, older Gen Xers have tended to be more Republican than both older Boomers and younger Millennials.
Also, Xers are more pessimistic than both of those larger generations that they’ll have enough money for their retirement – though some of that negativity is doubtless tied to the economic stresses of middle age. In 2010 when Pew Research asked adults of all ages if they thought their own generation was unique, about six-in-ten Boomers and Millennials said yes. And even among those who did, there was very little consensus about why they are distinctive.
One reason Xers have trouble defining their own generational persona could be that they’ve rarely been doted on by the media.
By contrast, Baby Boomers have been a source of media fascination from the get-go (witness their name).
And Millennials, the “everybody-gets-a-trophy” generation, have been the subject of endless stories about their racial diversity, their political and social liberalism, their voracious technology use, and their grim economic circumstances.Gen Xers have also gotten the short end of basic generational arithmetic.Due partly to their parents’ relatively low fertility rates, there are fewer of them (65 million) than Boomers (77 million) or Millennials (an estimated 83 million assuming a roughly 20-year age span and including those who have yet to reach adulthood). Generational boundaries are fuzzy, arbitrary and culture-driven.But there’s another reason that Xers are a small generation: They’ve been deemed to span just 16 years, while most generations are credited with lasting for about 20 years. Once fixed by the mysterious forces of the zeitgeist, they tend to firm up over time. World War II photographer Robert Capa first coined the term Generation X in a photo essay about the young adults of the 1950s, but the label didn’t stick the first time around.It was revived thirty years later by Canadian author Douglas Coupland, whose coming of age novel, , was set in Southern California. From everything we know about them, they’re savvy, skeptical and self-reliant; they’re not into preening or pampering, and they just might not give much of a hoot what others think of them. Paul Taylor, executive vice president for special projects at the Pew Research Center, is the author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown (Public Affairs, 2014). Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior.