According to the U. S. Census Bureau, millennials are those people born between 1982 and 2000. This means that the millennials’ age range in 2021 is between 39 years old and 21 years old. For this institution, with a demographic point of view, a “generation” is a group of cohorts (this is people birth in a certain year) that share a statistically meaningful demographic event.
Who are the millennials? Am I one of them? This is an endless question! How many of us have had this debate after dinner with friends? I guess many. So, the debate is so long because there’s little consensus about when each generation begins and ends and therefore there are several points of view about the millennials’ age range, which is so far a more complicated generation to define because we are so close in historical terms.
Let’s review the the millennial age range timeline.
From a cultural perspective, a “generation” is a group of people that share-alike life experiences. Then what do millennials have in common? Growing in a period of accelerated changes, led by the rapid technological developments.
Another big name in these demographic studies is the Pew Research Center. This think tank states a shorter period of birth time for this generation. According to them, millennials have been born between 1981 and 1996. If we follow this theory, the millennials’ age range in 2021 is anyone between 40 and 25 years old. The idea behind this is that millennials have been old enough to live and understand 9/11 and to experience the 2008 crisis in their first experiences in the labor market.
There are other examples with earlier proposals about this definition, such as the one from George Masnick, a professor at Harvard University. He stated as early as 2012 that millennials are those who were born between 1985 and 2004. From this point of view, millennials’ age range in 2021 is between 36 years old and 16 years old.
He has some good reasons for this cutoff, which is very different than the other proposals. He says that making generation spams of 20 years makes it easier to compare between generations. Secondly, he states that the 1985 kick-off is chosen since this was the year when the United States births once again exceeded 3.7 million, defining the end of the very low birth rate which characterized Generation X. He gives three reasons for the cutoff in 2004. He points out that after 2005 three major changes made a big turn in young adults’ lives. These are the outburst of social media, the Great Recession making a big impact in the early working life and a huge unemployment rate among them, and the exponential growth of students’ debt from 2005.
To make it more confusing, the Cambridge Dictionary, which properly collects new words or new words senses, defines a millennial as “a person who was born in the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s”. But they give an example which shows us quite some about the millennial generation characteristics:
“Millennials have grown up with the internet and can’t imagine a world without it”, which indicates that they use technology as the main aspect to consider.
Some further demographic, cultural, political and economic characteristics about the millennials according to Goldman & Sachs (taking the 1982-2000 cutoff years) are:
• They are the first digital natives. And stay connected more, having wider access to information online. We revise some discussions on the section revising Generation Z.
• Millennials are the largest generation in America, with about 92 million people.
• Millennials take way more personal care than previous generations (eating better food, sporting more and choosing for a healthier lifestyle).
• Millennials choose to have access to goods than owing them. This is related to the sharing economy, in which millennials participate intensely, sharing cars, offices and even houses.
Happy to be part of this generation? Hereby some not-so-happy numbers. When you compare millennials economic situation with the conditions of previous generations when they were the same age:
• Millennials have lower salaries.
• Millennials have a higher student loan.
• Millennials stay living at their parents’ house for longer years (because they can not afford to live on their own).
• Millennials delay marriage and having kids.
But let us finish this with a smile, the most popular definition in the cooperative website Urban Dictionary quotes millennial as “Name an old person gives a young person they don’t like.”