What Are the Reasons for the Generation Gap?

reasons-generation-gap Credit: Rebecca Nelson/Taxi/Getty Images

The term "generation gap" refers to differing values, communication styles and interests between two distinct age groups, often between parents and their children. Social scientists coined the term to express the rift between young Baby Boomers and Depression-era older adults that sprang up during the 1960s in Western culture.

The 1960s were a time of revolutionary change that caused young adults to adopt a mindset that was distrustful of the older generation's more materialistic and traditional values, especially those relating to war, sex, religion and human rights.

Generation gaps have always existed among differing age groups. However, the changes in society that occurred in the 1960s were more pronounced than during previous times in history. For instance, agrarian lifestyles in the 1800s did not cause societal changes at a fast pace compared to the more rapidly changing society of the late 20th century. Technological advances and shifting moral and religious beliefs contribute to younger generations often having differing perspectives and belief systems from their parents and other older adults.

Increased lifespans have also contributed to generation gaps. As people live longer they often remain in the workforce for an extended period of time, resulting in an older generation of workers in their 60s and 70s working alongside young adults who may have significantly different interests and values.