What Is Generation X or Gen X?

Generation X Overview

Generation X refers to people born between the mid-1960s and about 1980, directly following the Baby Boomers generation. As with most generational names, Gen X is a common descriptor intended to help identify a group of people who grew up in similar economic, technological, and political circumstances.

Gen X is also known as the “MTV Generation,” the “Latchkey Generation,” and the “Forgotten Generation” (not to be confused with the Silent Generation, known for serving in the Korean War which is often called the “Forgotten War”). Generation X is sandwiched between the Baby Boomers born before them and Millennials, or Generation Y, who follow after them.

Why Generation “X”?

Generation X encompasses the children born in the ‘60s and ‘70s when shifting societal and cultural changes started by the after-effects of World War II were becoming more prominent. For example, many more women were working, technology was rapidly changing, and divorce was on the rise.

Generation X is a term born from generational theory in the early 1990s, a time when X symbolized an unknown variable or a desire not to be defined. While not definitive sociological science, it helps group the population into generalized groups with similar characteristics.

In What Years Was Generation X Born?

Generation X members were typically born between the mid-1960s and 1980. The Pew Research Center says Generation X covers people born between 1965 and 1980. The Social Security Administration defines Gen X as people born between 1964 and 1979.

Included. Supported. Retained.

Don't leave your company culture to chance. With BambooHR's accurate, reliable employee surveys, you'll prevent burnout, improve morale, and stop premature turnover in its tracks.

Get a Free Demo Today!

What Is Generation X Known For?

Gen X is sometimes called the “Forgotten Generation.” They are the smallest generation by population, with about 65 million people. Because Baby Boomers have tended to retire later than previous generations, and Millennials, with their tech-native skills, were a big draw for employers, Gen X members might have been overlooked, or “forgotten” by employers and marketers catering to Baby Boomer demands and anticipating the potential of Millennial purchasing power.

Generation X also came of age as cable television became far more prominent in homes. They are sometimes called the “MTV Generation,” as their adolescence coincides with the era the music video channel rose to prominence.

As with every generation, there were shifting societal and cultural changes that impacted how Generation X grew up. These factors have created several defining characteristics common among people in this generation.

What Are the 5 Most Common Characteristics of Generation X?

How Is Gen X Different from Millennials?

One key way Gen X differs from Millennials is the latter’s reliance on technology. Millennials are tech natives and often seen as tech-dependent. Members of Generation X, meanwhile, are comfortable using technology but may just as easily be able to find analog solutions to problems. For example, many Millennials rely on navigation tools to travel to a new destination, while Gen Xers can use both navigation tools or hard copy maps to navigate if technology fails.