Who Are We?: The 1980-2000 Generation

Who are we and what do you call us?

Ever wonder what other people are calling you?

If you were born between 1980 and 2000, you may have heard yourself referred to as any one of the following:

  • Generation Y (or “Gen Y”)
  • The Millennial Generation (or the “ME Generation” or just “Millennials”)
  • Generation Next (I’ve never really like this one, have you?)
  • The Net Generation
  • The Echo Boomers (prior to doing a little research today, I had not heard of this one)

As a child of the ’80s, I only recently started hearing these terms applied my generation. People have been using them for some time, so it could be I just started paying attention. Often I heard us referred to a “people in their 20-s” or “young adults”. It occurred to me that I needed another way to refer to my peers, especially when describing them in my blog.


If I had to pick one of the references above, I would call us Millennials. For those of us born in the early-to-mid-’80s, the change of the millennium was a significant time in our lives. Most of us were in our mid-to-late teens, morphing from tweens listening to boy bands to soon-t0-be high school graduates planning for college or careers. This was the time we all, as they say, “came of age”. (A phrase full of meaning. After all, who wasn’t forced to read “coming of age” stories in middle school literature classes – think Great Expectations or No Promises in the Wind – and discuss the full ramifications of what it means to be “of age”? I always felt anyone who “came of age” was mature to the point of being practically decrepit  and vowed to skip the process entirely).

The Pew Research Center, among many other entities, has studied Millennials and published a series of reports in 2010 on who we are. Pew had this to say about millennials:

  • They are the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history. Among those ages 13 to 29: 18.5% are Hispanic; 14.2% are black; 4.3% are Asian; 3.2% are mixed race or other; and 59.8%, a record low, are white.
  • They are starting out as the most politically progressive age group in modern history. In the 2008 election, Millennials voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by 66%-32%, while adults ages 30 and over split their votes 50%-49%. In the four decades since the development of Election Day exit polling, this is the largest gap ever seen in a presidential election between the votes of those under and over age 30.
  • They are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding.
  • They are the least religiously observant youths since survey research began charting religious behavior.
  • They are more inclined toward trust in institutions than were either of their two predecessor generations — Gen Xers (who are now ages 30 to 45) and Baby Boomers (now ages 46 to 64) when they were coming of age.

Pew Research Center, by Scott Keeter and Paul Taylor. December 2009.

Millennials Infographic

(Because I Know You Didn’t Read the Bullets Above)


Created by: OnlineGraduatePrograms.com

Most of my peers would not be surprised to find we’re an ethnically diverse generation or that we find tweeting and Facebook usage the norm. Sometimes I think we do forget that what we think are just “the next steps” are all part of very recent stunning technological advancements.

Why Do I Ask?

I bring up the topic of our generation’s name because a great deal of what I will be writing about in this blog will be directed at individuals in their 20s and 30s. Whether we’re discussing personal branding among young people, millennials’ social media usage or the personal finance habits of the under-30 crowd; it will help to have one word to use to refer to this group of people. In this blog, I think “Millennials” will be that word.

We’re a fascinating group, and I’m sure I’ll comment more about studies related to us in the future. For now, if you see a title with the word “Millennial” in it and you were born between about 1980 to 2000, just know that I’m talking to or about you.

What do you think?

Which name do you like best for this generation?

Image Credit: Jeroen van Oostrom, Freedigitalphotos.net