Understanding and appreciating the generational values of your neighbors contributes to a strong community. Consider a few broad groups:
Matures: The Matures were born between 1920 and 1945. They’re the last of the veterans of the World and Korean Wars, and are also called the “Silent Generation.” They’re about sacrifice. They survived the Great Depression, and they still reuse aluminum foil and paper bags. Their heroes were military figures. They believe that a rule is a rule. They feel that change is good, as long as it’s the type of change they’ve envisioned. The Matures defined the world in which we live for many years, but they now have to give way to the Baby Boomers.
Baby Boomers: Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1964. Approximately 77 million in number, they’re workaholics who believe in teamwork, democracy, and loyalty. They don’t necessarily see the need to follow rules. Baby Boomers value the concept of “built to last.” They invented the idea of “meaningful work,” and the workplace continues to be a part of their self-identity. Baby Boomers will occupy the White House until approximately 2030.
Generation X: Generation X’ers were born between 1965 and 1977. Numbering about 44 million, this group was raised in an environment in which both parents worked. They question their parents’ values, and they believe that jobs and housing are disposable. They place greater value on family and personal life than the Baby Boomers do, and they feel that a balanced life is more important than professional accomplishments.
Generation Y: Generation Y’s were born between 1977 and 2000. They comprise approximately 33 percent of the U.S. population, and projections suggest that by the year 2010, those age 33 and younger will number 137 million, or 46 percent of the U.S. population. People in this group have always known the Internet, laptops, and cell phones. It would never occur to them to physically touch a television to change the channel. People born in the U.S. after 1983 have always had a President from the Southern states. South Africa’s official policy of apartheid has not existed in their lifetime, cars have always had CD players and air bags, weather reports have always been available 24 hours a day, and genetic testing and DNA screening have always been available. This generation focuses on its individual choices, goals, and the future.