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The Silent Generation is the demographic cohort following the G.I. Generation, roughly those born from the mid-1920s to the early-to-mid 1940s.
While there were many civil rights leaders, the "Silents" are called that because many focused on their careers rather than on activism, and people in it were largely encouraged to conform with social norms. As young adults during the McCarthy Era, many members of the Silent Generation felt it was dangerous to speak out. Time magazine coined the term "Silent Generation" in a November 5, 1951 article entitled "The Younger Generation", and the term has remained ever since. The Time article said that the ambitions of this generation had shrunk, but that it had learned to make the best of bad situations. The name was originally applied to people in the United States and Canada but has been applied as well to those in Western Europe, Australia and South America. It includes most of those who fought during the Korean War. In the United States, the generation was comparatively small because the financial insecurity of the 1930s and the war in the early 1940s caused people to have fewer children.
They have also been named the "Lucky Few" in the 2008 book The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom, by Elwood D. Carlson PhD, the Charles B. Nam Professor in Sociology of Population at Florida State University. Carlson notes that this was the first generation in American history to be smaller than the generation that preceded them. He calls the people of this generation "The Lucky Few" because even though they were born during the Great Depression and World War II, they moved into adulthood during the relatively prosperous 1950s and early 1960s. For men who served in the Korean War, their military service was not marked by high casualties as much as the previous generation. The Lucky Few also had higher employment rates than the generations before and after them, as well as better health and earlier retirement. African Americans in this generation also did better than earlier generations in education and employment. Neil Howe writing for Forbes describes the Silent Generation as those born 1925–1941. Pew Research Center defines the generation as being born from 1928 to 1945.
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The generation includes many political and civil rights leaders such as Elizabeth II, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, The 14th Dalai Lama, Malcolm X, Michael Dukakis, John McCain, Walter Mondale, Dick Cheney, Bernie Sanders, Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raúl Alfonsín, Giuliano Amato, Kofi Annan, Silvio Berlusconi, Reynaldo Bignone, Jim Bolger, Ingvar Carlsson, Jacques Chirac, Jean Chretien, Joe Clark, Emil Constantinescu, Francesco Cossiga, Bettino Craxi, F.W. de Klerk, Fernando de la Rua, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Chun Doo-hwan, Bulent Ecevit, Necmettin Erbakan, Thorbjorn Falldin, Malcolm Fraser, Mikhail Gorbachev, B.J. Habibie, Bob Hawke, John Howard, Saddam Hussein, Ion Iliescu, Helmut Kohl, John Major, Paul Martin, Carlos Menem, Mahathir Mohamad, Brian Mulroney, Manuel Noriega, Olof Palme, P. J. Patterson, Ron Paul, Isabel Peron, Romano Prodi, Bill Rowling, Edward Seaga, Chandra Shekhar, Manmohan Singh, V.P. Singh, Gloria Steinem, Roh Tae-woo Margaret Thatcher, John Turner, Boris Yeltsin, Kim Young-sam, Yasser Arafat, Colin Powell, Hosni Mubarak, Donald Rumsfeld, Simeon Sakskoburggotski, Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, Slobodan Milošević, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, Roman Herzog, Zhelyu Zhelev, Petar Mladenov, Ariel Sharon and Václav Havel.
It includes such writers and artists as George Carlin, Ursula Andress, Julie Andrews, Anne Bancroft, Brigitte Bardot, Judi Dench, Audrey Hepburn, Janet Leigh, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Joan Baez, Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury, Mary Tyler Moore, Rudolf Nureyev, Vanessa Redgrave, Debbie Reynolds, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, Lily Tomlin, Gene Wilder, Natalie Wood, Alan Arkin, Warren Beatty, Richard Burton, James Caan, James Coburn, James Dean, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, James Garner, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Dennis Hopper, Rock Hudson, James Earl Jones, Frank Langella, Jack Lemmon, Steve McQueen, Sal Mineo, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Peter O'Toole, Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, Robert Redford, Oliver Reed, Burt Reynolds, Little Richard, Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, George Takei, Adam West, Johnny Cash, Stephen Sondheim, James Brown, Van Cliburn, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley Bassey, The Beatles, J.J. Cale, Glen Campbell, Petula Clark, Patsy Cline, Eddie Cochran, Sam Cooke, Charlie Daniels, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Dion DiMucci, Fats Domino, Lonnie Donegan, Bob Dylan, The Everly Brothers, Connie Francis, Marvin Gaye, Glenn Gould, Merle Haggard, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Buddy Holly, Johnny Horton, Engelbert Humperdinck, Etta James, Waylon Jennings, Ben E. King, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Patti Page, Arvo Pärt, Luciano Pavarotti, Carl Perkins, Lloyd Price, Charley Pride, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Lou Rawls, Johnnie Ray, Della Reese, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Mstislav Rostropovich, Neil Sedaka, Del Shannon, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner, Frankie Valli, Frankie Vaughan, Gene Vincent, Jackie Wilson, Frank Zappa, Burt Bacharach, Berry Gordy Jr., Quincy Jones, George Martin, Phil Spector, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Patrick McGoohan, Elvis Presley, Richard Pryor, Dave Allen, Woody Allen, Ronnie Barker, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, John Byner, Michael Caine, Johnny Carson, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Ronnie Corbett, Bill Cosby, Bob Denver, David Frye, Frank Gorshin, Rolf Harris, Barry Humphries, Graham Kennedy, Jerry Lewis, Rich Little, Jackie Mason, Dudley Moore, Eric Morecambe, Jim Nabors, Bert Newton, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Flip Wilson, Ernie Wise, and the Beat Generation, Noam Chomsky and Richard Rorty.
Great athletes include Hank Aaron, Roger Bannister, Ron Barassi, Richie Benaud, Yogi Berra, Jim Brown, Rubin Carter, Wilt Chamberlain, Bobby Charlton, Clive Churchill, Maureen Connolly, Colin Cowdrey, Roy Emerson, Dawn Fraser, Reg Gasnier, Althea Gibson, Gordie Howe, Jack Kyle, John Landy, Rod Laver, Sonny Liston, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Bob Mathias, Willie Mays, Allan Moffat, Bobby Moore, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Floyd Patterson, Pelé, Gaylord Perry, Johnny Raper, Murray Rose, Pete Rose, Ken Rosewall, Garfield Sobers, Jackie Stewart, Ted Whitten, and Lev Yashin.
Depending on the dates used, the generation produced no United States presidents. The U.S. essentially "jumped from George Bush Sr., the World War II veteran, to Baby Boomer Bill Clinton". However, it did produce Vice Presidents Joe Biden (born 1942), Dick Cheney (born 1941) and Walter Mondale (born 1928) and First Ladies Barbara Bush (born 1925), Rosalynn Carter (born 1927), and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (born 1929). It also includes other politicians like Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright, and Senator Bernie Sanders (born 1941). Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were born in what is sometimes considered to be the last year of the preceding G.I. Generation (1924), while Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump were all born near the beginning of the Baby Boom.
- Handbook to Life in America, Volume 8 Rodney P. Carlisle Infobase Publishing, 2009, p. 22
- "The Younger Generation", Time, November 5, 1951
- "The Silent Generation, "The Lucky Few" (Part 3 of 7)". Forbes. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- "The Silent Generation: Definition, Characteristics & Facts". Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- Carlson, Elwood (2008). The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom. Springer Science + Business Media B.V. ISBN 978-1-4020-8540-6. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- Carlson, Elwood (2008). The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom. Berlin: Springer Science and Business Media. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-4020-8540-6.
- Carlson, Elwood D. "FSU Faculty Bio". Florida State University. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
- "The Lucky Few", Population Reference Bureau, 2008
- "DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH: Definitions", Pewresearch.org
- Howe, Neil. "The Silent Generation, "The Lucky Few" (Part 3 of 7)". Forbes. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
- Page, Susan (October 11, 2012). "Analysis: Contrasts, common ground define Biden, Ryan". USA Today.
- Mclaughlin, Dan (February 15, 2016). "The Silent Generation: Is it Over?". National Review.