Generation X, commonly abbreviated to Gen X, is the generation born after the Western post-World War II baby boom. Demographers, historians and commentators use beginning birth dates from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.
The term "Generation X" was coined by the Magnum photographer Robert Capa in the early 1950s. He used it later as a title for a photo-essay about young men and women growing up immediately after the Second World War. The project first appeared in "Picture Post" (UK) and "Holiday" (US) in 1953. Describing his intention, Capa said 'We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with.' 
The term was popularized by Canadian author Douglas Coupland's 1991 novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, concerning young adults during the late 1980s and their lifestyles. While Coupland's book helped to popularize the phrase "Generation X," in a 1989 magazine article he erroneously attributed the term to English rock musician Billy Idol. In fact, Idol had been a member of the punk band Generation X from 1976–1981, which was named after Deverson and Hamblett's 1965 sociology book Generation X—a copy of which was owned by Idol's mother.
Characteristics and Definition 
Gen X is the generation born after the Western post-World War II baby boom describing a generational change from the later Baby Boomer cohort who were born in the late 1950s.
Gen Xers have cultural perspectives and political experiences that were shaped by a series of events. These include post-assassination of John F. Kennedy government and culture, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the presidency of Jimmy Carter, Pope John Paul II, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the 1984 Summer Olympics, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the Chernobyl disaster, Black Monday, the election of George H.W. Bush, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent end of the Cold War, the launch of the Hubble Telescope, the savings and loan crisis, the election of Bill Clinton and the 1990s economic boom, the longest recorded expansion of GDP in the history of the United States.
Other events include the Iran hostage crisis, the AIDS epidemic, the War on Drugs, the Persian Gulf War, the rise of the internet and the Dot-com bubble, the emergence of new wave music, electronic music, synthpop, glam metal, pop punk, alternative rock, grunge,rap music and hip hop. They were often called the MTV Generation.
In the preface to Generation X Goes Global: Mapping a Youth Culture in Motion, a collection of global essays, Professor Christine Henseler summarizes it as "a generation whose worldview is based on change, on the need to combat corruption, dictatorships, abuse, AIDS, a generation in search of human dignity and individual freedom, the need for stability, love, tolerance, and human rights for all."
In 2012, the Corporation for National and Community Service ranked Generation X volunteer rates in the U.S. at 29.4% per year, the highest compared with other generations. The rankings were based on a three-year moving average between 2009 and 2011.
In American cinema, directors Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater and Todd Solondz have been called Generation X filmmakers. Smith is most known for his View Askewniverse films, the flagship film being Clerks, which focused on a pair of bored, twenty-something convenience store clerks in New Jersey circa 1994. Linklater's Slacker similarly explored young adult characters who were more interested in philosophizing than settling with a long-term career and family. Solondz' Welcome to the Dollhouse touched upon themes of school bullying, school violence, teen drug use, peer pressure and broken or dysfunctional families, mostly set in a junior high school environment in New Jersey during the early to mid-1990s.
Compared with previous generations, Generation X represents a more apparently heterogeneous generation, openly acknowledging and embracing social diversity in terms of such characteristics as race, class, religion, ethnicity, culture, language, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
Unlike their parents who challenged leaders with an intent to replace them, Gen Xers have a less prominent tendency to idolize leaders and a greater tendency to work toward long-term institutional and systematic change through economic, media and consumer actions.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Generation X statistically holds the highest education levels when looking at current age groups: U.S. Census Bureau, in their 2009 Statistical Abstract.
The 2011 publication "The Generation X Report", based on annual surveys used in the Longitudinal Study of today's adults, finds that Gen Xers, who are defined in the report as people born between 1961 and 1981, are highly educated, active, balanced, happy and family-oriented. The study dispels the materialistic, slacker, disenfranchised stereotype associated with youth in the 1970 and 80s. Various questions and responses from approximately 4,000 people who were surveyed each year from 1987 through 2010 made up the study.
Pursuant to a study by Elwood Carlson on "how different generations respond in unique ways to common problems in some political, social, and consumption choices", the Population Reference Bureau, a private demographic research organization based in Washington, D.C., cited Generation X birth years as falling between 1965-1982. On the first page of the study, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe's definition of a "cohort generation" is cited. They define Generation X by the years 1961 to 1981.
In economics, studies (done by Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation and the Urban Institute) challenged the notion that each generation will be better off than the one that preceded it. The study, 'Economic Mobility: Is the American Dream Alive and Well?" focuses on the income of males 30-39 in 2004 (those born April, 1964 – March, 1974) and is based on Census/BLS CPS March supplement data.
The study, released on May 25, 2007, emphasized that in real dollars, this generation's men made less (by 12%) than their fathers had at that same age in 1974, thus reversing a historical trend. The study also suggests that per year increases in the portion of father/son family household income generated by fathers/sons have slowed (from an average of 0.9% to 0.3%), barely keeping pace with inflation, though increases in overall father/son family household income are progressively higher each year because more women are entering the workplace, contributing to family household income if they're married or cohabitating.
Generation Flux is a neologism and psychographic (not demographic) designation coined by Fast Company for American employees who need to make several changes in career throughout their working lives due to the chaotic nature of the job market following the 2008–2012 global financial crisis. Societal change has been accelerated by the use of social media, smartphones, mobile computing, and other new technologies. Those in "Generation Flux" have birth-years in the ranges of both Generation X and Generation Y.
According to authors Michael Hais and Morley Winograd, "small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit that Gen Xers embody have become one of the most popular institutions in America. There's been a recent shift in consumer behavior and Gen Xers will join the “idealist generation” in encouraging the celebration of individual effort and business risk-taking. As a result, Xers will spark a renaissance of entrepreneurship in economic life, even as overall confidence in economic institutions declines. Customers, and their needs and wants (including Millennials) will become the North Star for an entire new generation of entrepreneurs".
United Kingdom 
During the 1980s and 1990s, in which Gen Xers would have been teenagers or young adults, the United Kingdom was politically marked by conservative Thatcher-era government followed by the more centrist tenures of John Major (1990–1997) and Tony Blair (1997–2007). Important news topics at that time included the Northern Ireland Peace Process, the Death of Diana, Princess of Wales (1997), and increasing European integration (Maastricht Treaty) and discussion over switching the currency to the Euro.
London newspaper The Guardian cited Generation X birth years as falling between 1965 and 1982 and wrote they were "labelled by some" as the "'me generation' of the Eighties." The Telegraph cited Generation X birth dates as falling into a longer time span (1965–1985), whilst the The Independent estimated an earlier range of birth dates (1963–1978) compared to other writers or researchers. A BBC News article about a lack of "mid-career volunteers" in their 20s provided a Generation X age range, which, in 2007, would suggest birth years that fall between 1962 and 1982.
One author, and professor at the University of Toronto, David Foot, divides the generation born after the baby boomers into two groups in his book Boom Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift: Generation X, born between 1960 and 1966; and the "Bust Generation", born between 1967 and 1979. In his opinion, those born between the periods of 1947-1966 were the Baby Boomers, where in Canada they were the largest boom of the industrialized world (relative to population). This large boom complicated the job market for the upcoming generation, Generation X. It is also common in Canada to represent Gen Xers using the date ranges 1961-1981.
Australia and New Zealand 
In Australia, there is debate over generational birth dates. A Sydney Morning Herald article defined Generation X as "Those born roughly between 1963-1980." However, 1981 is a common "cut-off" date. Many sources, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, use a 1965-1981 birth range to define Generation X.
Like its neighboring country, Australia, sources in New Zealand, including the country's labour statistics, locates Generation X between 1965 and 1981. However, the University of Adelaide's Centre for Learning and Professional Development gave a slightly different range of Generation X birthdates, ranging between 1965 and 1982.
The shorter birth year definitions are shorthand for fertility rates. Gen Xers (as a cultural generation) look beyond demographics to define themselves by a shared location in history, common beliefs, attitudes and values (and a common perceived membership). Defining Gen X purely by demographic bulges and busts (like the Census) misses key cultural indicators that a very different set of young people has come along. Commentators who set Millennial birth boundaries starting in the late-70s often make the same assumptions using fertility rates to define birth dates rather than shared beliefs, attitudes and values. Children born in the early 1960s and after had a very different coming of age experience than those born in the late 1950s. Some of the most influential cultural definers of Gen X were born during the period between 1961 and 1964.
See also 
- Lost Generation
- G.I. Generation
- Silent Generation
- Baby Boomers
- Millennial Generation
- Homeland Generation
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- Russell, Dominique (March 25, 2010). Rape In Art Cinema (page 130: "In this vein, Solondz' films, while set in the present, contain an array of objects and architectural styles that evoke Generation X's childhood and adolescence. Dawn (Heather Matarazzo) wears her hair tied up in a 1970s ponytail holder with large balls, despite the fact her brother works at a 1990 Macintosh computer, in a film that came out in 1996."). Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 082642967X.
- Dawson, Alene (2011-10-26). "Study says Generation X is balanced and happy". CNN. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
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- Strauss, William; Neil Howe (1991). Generations: The History of Americas Future, 1584 to 2069. New York, NY: Harper Perennial. p. 317. ISBN 0-688-11912-3.
- Gordinier, Jeff (2008). X Saves the World -- How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking. New York, NY: Penguin Group. pp. Cover. ISBN 978-0-670-01858-1.
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- Economic Mobility Project
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- Morley Winograd; Michael Hais (2012). "Why Generation X is Sparking a Renaissance in Entrepreneurship". Retrieved 22 April 2013.
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- A (2007-02-18). "Generation X: The slackers who changed the world". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2011-07-21.
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- Foot, David (1996). Boom, Bust & Echo. Macfarlane Walter & Ross. pp. 18–22. ISBN 0-921912-97-8.
- Trenton, Thomas Norman (1997-Fall). "Generation X and Political Correctness: Ideological and Religious Transformation Among Students". Canadian Journal of Sociology 22 (4): 417–36. Retrieved 2011-06-03. "In Boom, Bust & Echo, Foot (1996: 18-22) divides youth into two groups: 'Generation X' born between 1960 and 1966 and the 'Bust Generation' born between 1967 and 1979."
- Foot, David. Boom, Bust & Echo.Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1996. ISBN 0-921912-97-8. p.19
- CBC News http://archives.cbc.ca/society/youth/topics/1209-6689/
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- "Destination Canada: Are We Doing Enough?". Deloitte Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure Industry and Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC): 1–16. 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-28. "67% are members of Generations X (1961-81) and Y (1982-2001), or the 'contemporary generations'"
- Holroyd, Jane (2011-07-20). "Talkin' 'bout my label". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
- McCrindle, Mark (2005-07-18). "Superannuation and the Under 40’s: Summary Report: Research Report on the Attitudes and Views of Generations X and Y on Superannuation.". McCrindle Research. "Generation X 1965–1981...Generation X comprises those aged between 24 and 40...Generation Y 1982–2000..."
- Kershaw, Pam (2005). "Managing Generation X and Y". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2011-03-31. "Generation X: born 1965–1981...Generation Y: born 1982 onwards."
- Shoebridge, Neil (2006-10-11). "Generation Y: Catch Them If You Can.". Australian Financial Review (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2011-03-31. "The definitions of generation Y vary...others plumping for 1982 to 1995."
- "State of the News Print Media in Australia Report 2008". Australian Press Council. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2011-03-31. "This comment is not meant to convey a negative in regard Generation X (1965–1981) and Generation Y (1982–2000)."
- "Generation X and Y: Who They Are and What They Want". Board Matters Newsletter 8 (3). 2008-11. Retrieved 2011-03-31. "Generation Y 1965-1981"
- Eames, David (2008-03-06). "Jumping the Generation Gap". The New Zealand Herald (APN New Zealand Ltd). Retrieved 2011-03-31. "Generation X (1965-1981) Cynical, pessimistic, individualist, no employer loyalty, self-sufficient, sceptical."
- Pitt, Dr. Colin (2011-03). "Tuning in to the Next Generation of Leaders". inFinance 125 (1): 1. "Generation X: 1965-1981"
- "Maximum Talent: Young People Are the Workforce of the Future but Many Are Getting Left Behind from Day One. CadetMax Is Turning Unskilled Young People Into Able Employees". Diversity in Action: 1–16. 2011-Autumn. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- "Centre for Learning and Professional Development". University of Adelaide: 1. 2011-Autumn. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
- Howe, Neil (1991). Generations. New York: Harper Perennial. pp. 58–68. ISBN 0-688-11912-3.
Further reading 
- Generation X Goes Global: Mapping a Youth Culture in Motion, Christine Henseler, Ed.; 2012