Copyright

Generation X: Definition & Characteristics

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Intergenerational Mobility: Definition & Concept

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Who Is Generation X?
  • 1:21 Characteristics…
  • 2:49 Generation X Today
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrea McKay

Andrea teaches high school AP Psychology and Online Economics and has a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

In this lesson, you will learn how social scientists define a generation. Discover who is a part of Generation X and what characteristics set them apart from other generations.

Who Is Generation X?

What kinds of cultural events shaped your development and identity in your youth? How do you think your attitudes would be different if you had been born 70 years earlier?

It is rather difficult to take an entire generation of people and place them into one category, but labeling people as a part of a specific demographic can be helpful when looking at broad patterns or characteristics of a group. Social scientists define a generation as a group of people born during the same period of time, one descent from the previous generation. The time span of a generation is often considered approximately twenty years.

Generation X is one descent after the Baby Boom generation, which is currently the largest generation. The Baby Boomers were born in the years following World War II, roughly 1944 - 1964. Today, there are approximately 80 million Baby Boomers. Generation X is typically considered to be people born between 1965 and 1980, but some suggest anyone born in the 1960s to be part of Generation X.

Generation X precedes Generation Y, now commonly known as the Millennials. The Millennial generation also boasts large population numbers, with approximately 71 million people identified as Millennials. In contrast, Generation X stands out as being a smaller generation, comprising roughly 44 - 50 million people.

Characteristics Created by Culture

Many social and political changes happened during the time the Generation Xers were coming of age, and those changes contributed to an overall identity for the members of Generation X. One important social change came about as divorce rates peaked in the 1980s, and many women, married or divorced, entered the workforce. Having two working parents created a 'latchkey' environment for the generation, when students would come home to an empty house with parents still at work. Young Generation Xers then were expected to take care of themselves in many ways until their parents returned home in the evenings.

Generation X was once thought to be a generation of 'slackers,' as the influence of multiple television stations, video games, and computers came to be a large part of their cultural identity. The 'grunge' movement in the late 1980s and 1990s aided in that stereotyping, as hordes of Generation Xers took to wearing baggy plaid shirts, combat boots, and messy hair as they voiced their angst in the music genre.

The following are some of the cultural events that shaped the development and identity of Generation X throughout their lives:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create an account
Support