Gen Zs are graduating and “ready for takeoff” into the real world more than previous generations. We need to be ready for takeoff too by knowing the demographics and behaviors of this refreshing generation. Exactly how old is Generation Z? What year did births begin and end for this rising generation? I have my own definition – 1996 to 2010 – and here’s why.
First, Why Does This Matter?
Gen Z finally seems to be getting more attention, with 3.4mm of the first Gen Zs graduating high school in the US, heading off to college and nearly half entering the workforce. Sociologists, marketers and journalists are also turning the spotlight over to the world’s 23 million Gen Zs, realizing Gen Z is growing up to be an impressive generation. Gen Zs will take off as individuals, as soon as they are free and able to enter the work force, with huge potential for success in business and in changing the world.
But before we go any further with getting to know Gen Z, one thing needs to be clear: just how old is Generation Z?
I wanted to know how leading sources define Gen Z and come up with my own, as an expert on Gen Z. My research indicates that there’s a lot of discrepancy out there, with start dates around the mid 1990’s and end dates ranging from 2000 to 2014. If we want to understand and address these Gen Zs effectively and respectfully, we need to know how old they are, and thus what they’re up to in life!
First, who is saying what? I looked at 13 different sources across the media and found many different dates (see chart below). I’ve studied Gen Z for nearly two years and believe that 1996 – 2010 are the most suitable dates to use. I mash up behavior, parenting, world events, career and technology to help define exact birth dates. Here are my reasons for these dates but I’d like to know what you think.
Gen Z Birth Dates Begin in 1996:
- Gen Zs in High School demonstrate all the qualities of a Gen Z: intensely connected technically, creative, independent, entrepreneurial and driven.
- Gen Y ended in the mid 1990’s, making the youngest Gen Y 19 years old, with the majority just completing their first year of college. This batch behaves like Gen Y, needing direction constantly. They’re beginning to compete with Gen Z for jobs.
- Gen Zs were born and raised with the Internet, starting in the mid 1990’s. If Gen Z began in 2000, they’d have missed out on the boom. Gen Z learned technology (with their Gen X parents) at age 1 or 2 which has greatly impacted their tech savvy today.
- Gen X began having children in the mid 1990’s, raising Gen Zs very differently than Boomers raised Gen Ys. Gen X hasn’t over-indulged our children like the Boomers did. Gen X delegates, supports, directs but doesn’t spoil their Gen Z children.
Gen Z Birth Dates End in 2010:
- Gen Zs grew up during the recession in the late 2000’s; they were raised frugally making them fiscally conservative. Early Gen Zs got a taste “of the good life” in the late 1990’s, and many saw it diminish creating a hard work ethic.
- The recession started lifting in 2010, yet they still face financial challenges. There’s a difference between Gen Y & X spending.
- Gen Y births soared in 2010, producing the next generation (Generation Alpha) that is being raised very differently than Gen Z. Gen Y parents indulge and protect Gen Alpha more than Gen X did. I suspect Gen Alpha will be demanding too!
- Gen Z witnessed and experienced world events like terrorism and natural disasters during this time that makes them socially conscience and global thinkers. (My son was 3 on 9/11 and remembers the day clearly). Most are not selfish. Horrific events continue but Gen Y parents may try to control exposure.
I wonder if there’s a Generation President or CEO out there who makes the ultimate decision, maybe I could be the Gen Z Goddess one day. Or perhaps we can participate in a contest like USA Today when they ran a Naming contest for Gen Z in 2012. But we’d better get it straight before Gen Z has a bigger presence in the workforce and starts showing us what they are capable of in 2014 and beyond. And before Generation Alpha (2010-2025) starts telling us all what to do!
|Time Business Mag||1995||2000|
|*Based on public articles online|