What Is Generation Y or Gen Y?

Generation Y Overview

Generation Y, also known as Millennials, is a demographic categorization of people born after Generation X and before Generation Z. These people were generally born in the 1980s through the late 1990s and are most often the children of Baby Boomers.

Having come of age with the internet and smartphones, Generation Y are digital natives. They’ve been greatly impacted by world events like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Dot-com Boom, and the Great Recession of 2008. Gen Y is more likely than previous generations to be comfortable on social media, with over half having posted a selfie.

Gen Y is the largest demographic cohort in the US, with more than 80 million people falling into this age range.

Is Gen Y the Same as Millennials?

Yes. Gen Y is the same as Millennials. The two terms can be used interchangeably to describe people born between the 1980s and late 1990s, though this can change depending on location.

When Did Gen Y Change to Millennials?

Initially, the group born after Generation X was coined Gen Y because it was the next letter progression in the current naming schema. In the late 1990s, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe coined the term “Millennials” to describe the generation coming of age at the beginning of the 21st century. It gained popularity with journalists and media in the early 2000s, and since then, both terms have been used to describe this generation. However, Millennials has become more popular.

Why Are Millennials Not Called Gen Y?

While both Millennials and Gen Y are still used to describe this demographic cohort, the Millennials label has gained more popularity and recognition in media, gradually replacing Gen Y within the US However, internationally Gen Y is used more frequently.

Read our glossary entry on Millennials to learn more about the use of the term.

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What Is the Gen Y Age Range?

Most sources list the age range for the Gen Y demographic cohort between 1981 and 1997, though it can vary.

The Pew Research Trust lists the birth date range as being from 1981 to 1996. William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors who coined the term “Millennials,” list the birth date range as being between 1982 and 2004. Meanwhile, other sources list the range as 1980 to 2000 or 1977 to 1995.

What Are General Characteristics of Gen Y?

Like all generations, Gen Y has unique characteristics that are shaped by the cultural and political events, trends, and social norms they faced as they came of age. Some of the defining traits of Gen Y include the following: