Games of Generational One-upsmanship

Comparing the young adults of Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y (Millennial) and comparisons each makes of succeeding ones.


History of Each Generation


Boomers (1943-1960):  

Generation X  (1961-1981):

Generation Y/ Millennial (1982-2003):

General Descriptions of Each Generation:



    One of the Boomers main drives is the self.  Many of the Boomers are characterized by breaking all ties and responsibilities that don't directly influence themselves.  This sense of selfishness caused them to have bad financial stability.  Living in the moment, boomers spent their money on a day to day basis and many did not save for the future.  Social trends began to worsen during the boomer generation; teen unemployment, death rates, and youth crimes all had a strong rise.  Also, a rise in liberal sexuality took place among this generation, however this revolution was greatly caused by the female population.  Draft dodging became a well known characteristic of the boomers, uniting many of them during the Vietnam war.  Female employment had a strong contribution to the success of the family.  Moreover, the success of single women was far greater than any prior generation.  "I have made no plans, because I have found no plans worth making", says the Dartmouth Valedictorian of 1971.  Boomers have also been known to have a large 'emotional intensity' causing them to be impulsive in nature.  However, when becoming older, they are not as prepared for the future because of their day to day lifestyle.


    Gen-X is best known for it's persistence to question authority.  They have also shown stronger familial bonds, and strong computer savvy.   Four in ten Gen-Xers come from a divorced or single-parent household which influenced them to instill stronger family values in their own household.  Moreover, the families that Xers do have are more complex, meaning they have more step-siblings and parents.  Abortion rates peak during Generation X, along with suicide rates.  Generally known as 'Latch-key' kids, meaning they were left alone at home.  This forced them to become more self-reliant than baby boomers.  Xers were pushed to grow up fast by the silent generation.  Gen-X is known for it's cynicism towards the game of life, and there is an abundance of Xers that have been left with a lack of formal education to allow them to have successful jobs.  They have grown up with computers, which allows them to easily adapt to new software and  trends.  This has also inclined them to establish virtual companies and franchises.  Also, this generation has created a third influential political party in the U.S., the Green Party.  However, college completion rates have fallen from 58% to 37% for the Gen-Xers due to the lack of reinforcement in education by their parents.  


Gen-Y/ Millennial:     

       Following in the footsteps of Gen-X, the millennial too have become known as 'latch-key' kids.  The Millennial have been noted as the fastest maturing generation to this date, growing up with political scandals, sports, and controversies.  With the emergence of the internet, this generation has the ability to find the truth more easily than previous generations, and thus have become more cynical of the media and authority figures.  Millennial children were on the majority planned births, and grew up with parents that were educated on child care and development.  Millennial have grown up with strict laws and rules from their parents to better their upbringing.  Trends in the Justice system are beginning to hold parents accountable for criminal acts that their children are committing.  Millennial shows signs of growing up with trends, especially those of improving health care, education, family life, and have a rising sense of goals and ambition.  The amount of siblings of this generation has reduced from previous generations.  The number of abortions has also reduced due to the rise of family and life values.  

Our Hypothesis on the values of each generation:  


        We believe that Baby Boomers value income only in adulthood, rather than in youth.  We believe this is because they were given a lot as children, and became self-centered.  They were born during a time of war, which gave them a good cause for rebellion and escape from practical matters. Therefore, income was not an issue for them yet.  However at the end of the war they found themselves needing to mature and take an active role in their society.  Income, thus became important for them to live a typical suburban existence.  

        Gen-X values income as a means of survival.  During their childhood, they were forced to mature very quickly.  So, they lost their chance to become idealistic, instead becoming cynical and untrusting of the social structure.  Gen-X faced less job opportunities than other generations, however they realized the need for income as a means of survival.  Yet, there was no means for them to attain their desired incomes.  They are known as becoming an angry generation because of this.

        Gen-Y/Millennials are known to value income the most of these generations due to their upbringing.  Their childhood has been filled with parents that understand the value of money and the means of attaining it.  These values are being passed on to the Millennials.



        Boomers are indifferent to the value of education because of the ease of attainability. There were many grants, and scholarships available for them to enter college.  Also, many enrolled in college to dodge the draft.  

        Gen-X resisted conforming to traditional education.  They tend to be skeptical of those in power, and thus have little faith in higher education.  Many Xers are more individualistic, educating themselves on topics that they personally find interesting. 

        The Millennials value education most of these generations.  This comes from the values instilled upon them by their parents and authority figures.  Adults began taking a more active role in the children's lives, influencing their values. 



        Due to the lifestyle of the boomers, we feel that they did not value family until their adulthood.  Boomers were focused on the day to day activities, and thus had little desire to start a family.  Many of the Boomers were against political choices, and were hesitant to bring a child into that type of environment.  Thus, after the war they began to mature and settle down.  At this point, they wanted to raise families, and invested a lot of time and energy into them.

        Xers did not value families.  Due to hardships of their own youth, they had a negative connotation with families.  They were more concerned with surviving within their own communities, rather than establishing a family.

        Millennials, we believe, will value families greatly because of their strong parental influence.  Their youth has been greatly governed by parents and authority, and thus we believe that they too will invest time into their own families.   



        Boomers value religion only as a trend.  In their youth, Boomers were experimental with religion, showing that religion was valued but uniquely so.  The boomers were more focused on emotion and feeling than generations before them.  Thus, religion was a way for them to express their emotions.  

        Gen-X value religion the least of these generations.  This is due to their non-conforming nature, and their willingness to be individuals.  For Xers, following a group does not appeal to them because it contrasts to the individualistic nature of the generation.  

        At the beginning of the millennium, Gen-Y values religion more so than previous generations.  Due to their parents, the boomers, they exposed their children to religion and showed it's importance.  




Comparisons and Contrasts of these Generations


    From our data we find that in comparing the income of each generations family at youth to their family income at present that the number of those that feel that they are above average in income has increased.  We interpret this as the boomers and millennial value income more than their parents, and have worked to maximize it.  Boomers seem to have an increase in value of income over time due to their maturity at a later time in life.  However, the Xers grew up with higher income levels, but their personal adulthood income was much lower than that of their youth.  This shows that they had a decreased value in income.  We believe this is due to their nature of non-conformity.  As for the millennial, they cared the most of the three generations.  They have grown up with a high level of income, and from our own (possibly biased) data we see that they have an increase in the value of personal income.  




    Our data shows that boomers and Xers believe that education has gotten better over the years.  However, Millennials found that education has had a downward slope, and thus carry less faith in the educational system for the future.  The value of education has gone up by each generation.  We perceive this data as showing that those willing to volunteer for education, value education.  Boomers had the lowest level of volunteerism, showing their low value in education.  Xers had more hours of volunteerism, however less than the Millennials.  Thus the Millennials show the highest concern for education as well as their high rates of college attendance.  We asked the Millennials why they attend college, and found that the attend college solely to gain knowledge, not to gain income later in life.  Thus, they value education for the essence of education.



        We find that the boomers and Xers want to spend more time with their families than they currently do.  This could possibly mean that they put less effort into spending time with their families, and therefore showing they don't value family as much.  However Millennials show that they already spend a desired amount of time with their family.  This shows that they do value their family.  This is proven by a lower number of people wanting to spend more time with their families.  We also found that the Millennials grew up in homes with more than one generation present, which is also true for the boomers.  However, the Xers had the highest number of those living in a single generation home.  We took this to mean the Xers want to live on their own, and value family life less than other generations.  When each generation was asked who they would rather sell their bedroom furniture to we interpreted this data to demonstrate whether they value close ties with others, or independence more.  The Xers had a greater percentage of people wanting to sell to a complete stranger than those they knew.  Whereas, the Boomers and Millennials had a higher percentage of those wanting to sell to those they had personal ties to.  This shows that these two generations have a higher concern for familial relations.  



    A greater percentage of the Millennials found themselves extremely religious than the other generations.  The Xers showed to have the lowest number of religious individuals.  In looking at volunteerism for religious organizations, we found that the millennial contributed the most, with boomers being second, and Xers contributing the least.  Thus, Gen-X has the least level of religiosity, and the millennials had the highest due to the parental instilment of faith.  



Note:  All relevant data can be seen by following this link: DATA



Note: The Value survey for Generation Y/Millennials (Questions taken from NORC GSS) was preformed by us because of the lack of data from the NORC GSS.  The NORC GSS conducts it's surveys to random non-institutionalized people in the U.S. above the age of 18.  Thus, we conducted our own survey of the questions from the NORC GSS.  We acknowledge the lack of randomness in our attempts to conduct the survey, and that this could lead to biased data.  However, we feel that the questions asked serve our purpose of comparing and contrasting these generations well.  Please feel free to conduct the survey for yourself and see if you match the data for you're generation.


Our Group consists of:

Talina Miele

Benito Rivella

David Houck

Meg Mascarenas

Chris Kruzel



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