Generation (from the Greek γενεά), also known as procreation, is the act of producing offspring. It can also refer to the act of creating something inanimate such as electrical generation or cryptographic code generation.

A generation can also be a stage or degree in a succession of natural descent as a grandfather, a father, and the father's son comprise three generations.

A generation can refer to stages of successive improvement in the development of a technology such as the internal combustion engine, or successive iterations of products with planned obsolescence, such as video game consoles or mobile phones.

In biology, the process by which populations of organisms pass on advantageous traits from generation to generation is known as evolution.


A generation has traditionally been defined as “the average interval of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring. This makes a generation around 70 years in length. However, while this rule of thumb has served sociologists well in analysing generations up to and including the Baby Boomers, it is less relevant for recent generations.

Firstly, because generational cohorts are changing so quickly in response to new technologies, changing career and study options, and because of shifting societal values, their characteristics can change in less than two decades. Secondly, the time between birth of parents and birth of offspring has stretched out from two decades to more than three. Looking at Australian statistics, the median age of a woman having her first baby was 24 in 1976, while today it is just over 30. So, while the Boomers are the children of the Builders or Veterans, Gen Z are often the younger siblings of Gen Y – or the children of the late-breeding Gen X. In recent years, the median age of first-time mothers throughout the western world has reached record highs.

  • USA - 25.2
  • UK - 27.4

So, today a generation refers to a cohort of people born into and shaped by a particular span of time (events, trends and developments). And the span of time has contracted significantly.

More so than ever, the commonalities of today’s generations cut through global, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries. Due largely to globalisation made possible through the various technologies of today, a youth from Australia, the US, UK, Germany or Japan is shaped by the same events, trends and developments: they are witnessing unprecedented declines in their national birth rate, they are concerned by global warming, and more of their generation are tertiary-educated than their parents and grandparents. Likewise, those living on Government pensions are aware of and shaped by global trends no differently than are celebrities and high-flyers.

Generation Table

Please note that these years that have been noted are quite vague and may differ slightly (in some cases quite substantially) from country to country. This table corresponds with the table given by Strauss and Howe.
G.I. (1901-1924) Silent (1925-1942) Boomers (1943-1960) Generation X (1961-1981) Generation M (1982-2001) The New Silent Generation (2002-)
The greatest generation The sandwich generation The love generation Slackers Google generation
The dying generation The Depression generation The me generation The twenty/thirty somethings The MySpace generation The internet generation
The war generation The Beat generation Trailing-edge boomers The generation after The MyPod generation Zeds/Zees
The booster generation The beatniks The hippies Leading-edge boomers iGeneration
The hero generation The lost generation Breakthrough generation The gap generation The corporation generation
The seniors The Bitter Boys The latchkey kids The connected generation The "Green" generation
Generation X men/women The neo-Disney generation

See also

The Baby Boom Generation took place from 1946-1965, roughly in between those times 76 million babies were born in the Post WWII era.

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