Who are boomers, millennials and zoomers and how are they different from each other?

The theory of generations appeared in 1991 thanks to economist Neil Howe and writer William Strauss. In their work, they presented to the world a classification of four generations, assessing the life experiences and values ​​of the representatives of each of them. Although the theory was initially aimed at residents of the United States, it quickly gained popularity all over the world, and only the lazy have not heard of it today. Thus, YouTube is literally inundated with videos about the differences between «boomers», «millennials» and «zoomers», who conflict with each other, do not want to grow up and argue about who ages faster. At the same time, the “alpha” generation is coming on the heels of all of them, the oldest representatives of which recently turned 14 years old. But since conflicts between generations have occurred throughout human history, many scientists criticize the theory of generations and argue that all the differences between them are nothing more than fiction.

Who are boomers, millennials and zoomers and how are they different from each other? Why don't boomers, zoomers and millennials understand each other? Image: news.virginia.edu. Photo.

Why don't Boomers, Zoomers and Millennials understand each other? Image: news.virginia.edu


  • 1 Popular Theory
  • 2 Generations in Russia
  • 3 Stereotypes
  • 4 False Generations
  • 5 Cultural Change

Popular Theory

First described in the book «Generations» (1997), the theory of Howe and Strauss has become a real treasure for sociologists. This is because it focuses on the correlation between the economy and the birth rate, as well as the enormous impact on people of major shocks such as wars and crises.

Thus, according to the concept, people born in certain time periods have similar characteristics, attitudes and values, which are formed under the influence of the social, economic and cultural conditions of their time.

Popular theory. The letter designations of generations “X”, “Y” and “Z” are the hallmark of generational theory. Image: miro.medium.com. Photo.

The letter designations of generations “X”, “Y” and “Z” are the hallmark of the theory of generations. Image: miro.medium.com

Each cycle begins with a crisis, followed by recovery and recovery. Society then experiences a cultural awakening, which leads to the collapse of social structures and the completion of a new crisis. Today, the theory of generations is used to predict social changes, analyze historical events and is actively used in marketing, politics and sociology.

More on the topic: The theory of generations: who are boomers, millennials and “snowflakes”?

Generations in Russia

Despite the fact that the theory of generations is often criticized for excessive generalization and lack of scientific rigor, it has become an integral part of our lives. Of course, generations are not the same throughout the world, and also differ in the specified time periods.

Generations in Russia. The theory of generations is a useful tool for analyzing historical and social events. Image: ceconline.co.za. Photo.

Generation theory is a useful tool for analyzing historical and social events. Image: ceconline.co.za

For example, in the United States, millennials include people born from 1980 to 2005, but in Russia they are considered people born from 1984 to 2000. However, the difference is small. In our country, researchers identify the following generations:

  • Silent generation (1925 – 1944)
  • The values ​​of the generation were formed before the end of the 1950s, which means that the Great Patriotic War, Stalin’s repressions and the post-war rehabilitation of people and the country had a colossal influence on the silent generation. Trust and family are the main guidelines for people of that time. They also respect the law and are extremely prudent about saving for a rainy day.

  • Baby Boomers (1950-1962)
  • After World War II, there was an increase in the birth rate, which led to the emergence of this generation. Baby boomers witnessed the cultural changes of the 60s, economic growth and technological progress, which is why they are characterized by optimism. Almost all representatives of this generation can work in a team and love team games, and are also distinguished by good health and endurance. Boomers hardly use gadgets and have a hard time dealing with global changes.

  • Generation X (1967 – 1984)
  • Born into an era of economic uncertainty and political change, Gen Xers are known for their skepticism and independence. They have seen the transition from an industrial to an information society and value work-life balance highly. Xers have leadership qualities, that is, they understand how to properly organize the workspace and select the necessary performers in order to complete tasks in a timely manner to achieve their goals. As a rule, they are actively moving up the career ladder.

  • Generation Y (Greek) or millennials (1984 – 2000)
  • Millennials are one of the hardest generations for public perception. The name comes from the Latin word “millennium” – millennium, since Y were born at the turn of the millennium. Millennials grew up in an era of digital technology and globalization that has seen disruption and economic upheaval. They value flexibility, innovation and self-fulfillment, and are well-adapted to change. Representatives of this generation are in no hurry to find employment, and start families closer to the age of 30.

  • Generation Z (Z) or Zoomers (2000 – 2015)
  • Generation Z was born in the era of the Internet and social networks and are essentially “digital natives” who grew up surrounded by technology. They are distinguished by pragmatism and high adaptability to new conditions. For the most part, Generation Z prefers remote work or freelance options, and also require motivation and attention. Representatives of this generation do not like to work for a future result – they need motivation for every completed task.

  • Generation A (Alpha) (2011 to present)
  • Representatives of this generation are growing up in an environment of constant technological progress and are fundamentally different from their predecessors in many respects. Generation Alpha has been surrounded by digital devices and the Internet almost from birth. Technology plays a central role in their education, communication and entertainment. They will be the first to grow up in a completely digital world, where the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) become everyday reality.

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Gen Z is lazy, millennials are incompetent, boomers are mean, and Gen X has been forgotten for years (let alone their parents). Even if we can’t remember exactly what age defines each cohort, many people rattle off generational stereotypes as if on cue. And while generational differences do exist, how real are these lines of demarcation?

The Pew Research Center has been conducting surveys and studies for decades about what each generation thinks, feels, and does. Its start and end dates have become standard fare for news stories, academic studies, and dinner-table debates.

Stereotypes. Is such a popular theory true? Image: i.insider.com. Photo.

Is such a popular theory true? Image: i.insider.com

However, in 2023, Pew Research Center researchers announced that they would no longer use generational names in their work. In doing so, they quietly ended a tradition that in recent years has become a source of growing frustration (and heated debate) in the social sciences.

The problem is that what we call generationcovers too long a period of timeto provide any useful information. The question is not whether today's youth are different from middle-aged or older people. The question is whether today's youth are different from young people at any particular point in the past, writes Kim Parker, director of the center's research on social trends.

The Pew Research Center's statement raises questions about the reliability of the generational information we are given. Is there really a united Generation Z? Does it make sense to compare Millennials to Boomers? In fact, the Pew Research Center's decision makes clear that generations—and the distinctions we make between them—are fictitious.

This is interesting: Which generation can't live without smartphones? The answer will surprise you

False generations

While the idea of ​​generations has been percolating for decades, today's strong obsession with age cohorts can be traced to the previously mentioned book Generations, which gave birth to the boomers, zoomers, xers, and millennials. World publications write about them, and social networks do not subside at all. And many researchers are not happy about this.

Each of these labels is associated with a set of purported psychological traits, behaviors, and political beliefs that characterize each respective generation (e.g., narcissism, parting one's hair in the middle, collapsing the global economy), the Pew Research Center said in a statement.

Fake generations. Perhaps the generational theory makes no sense. Image: images.squarespace-cdn.com. Photo.

Perhaps the theory of generations does not make any sense. Image: images.squarespace-cdn.com

Moreover, many sociologists have long been irritated by the idea of ​​using generations to understand a changing culture, and there are many problems associated with the overuse of the concept of generations. First, there's not much you can learn about a person from a randomly constructed nearly two-decade window that happens to span the year he was born. Discussions about generations also tend to ignore important variables such as race, education, and gender.

The problem is that young people change as they grow older. Thus, we cannot truly appreciate the uniqueness of their views and behavior without the use of historical data, writes Parker.

To understand whether young people's attitudes toward work are really that different from those of older workers, researchers would need data on young people's views on work over time. But, unfortunately, this kind of historical data is not available. That makes it difficult, if not impossible, to compare Gen Z's views on the workplace with Gen X's when they were the same age.

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Cultural change

Artificial or not, intergenerational tensions have become a convenient shorthand for advertisers and journalists. Popular reporting on generations tends to fill information gaps with generalizations that reduce different groups to broad phrases. But Philip N. Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, suggests that this unpleasant reflex can't necessarily be chalked up to cynicism or anger—at least not entirely.

It also stems from the present, compassionate human desire to communicate with each other. He says talking about generations can help people overcome misunderstandings, especially during periods of rapid social and technological change.

Cultural changes. Sociologists are not happy with the stereotypes of generational theory. Image: images.fastcompany.com. Photo.

Sociologists are not happy with the stereotypes of generational theory. Image: images.fastcompany.com

Stereotypes are very powerful, whether you love them or hate them. When you open an article about generational differences, it may be because you're annoyed or mocking the stereotype presented in the headline, but also because you're trying to understand how the culture is changing, Cohen says.

< p>Note that Cohen is one of the most vocal critics of generational labeling in social research and played a significant role in the statement of researchers from the Pew Research Center. So, in 2021, he published an opinion piece in the Washington Post and an open letter asking the think tank to «do the right thing» and «help end the use of arbitrary and misleading «generation«labels and titles. More than 200 sociologists joined him.