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5 Key Differences Between Millennials And Generation X

Sometimes called the forgotten generation, Generation X is stuck between the Baby Boomers and the Millenials, and they never seem to get the same media attention as the generations on either side of them. Born between 1965 and 1979, Gen X is one of the smallest generations, but it’s created significant cultural influences.

Millennials, in contrast, were born between 1980 and 2000. Although they’re often talked about as if they’re kids, they’re now adults with homes and families, and the oldest part of this generation is well into their 40s. Although these generations share several similarities, they have a lot of differences — check out these five key distinctions. 

1. Generation X were latch-key kids.

Generation X was called the latch key generation. Their families were the first to become dual income earners. As a result, they rode their bikes home from school, made their own snacks, and raised themselves for a few hours until their parents got home from work.

By the time most millennials were growing up, this practice had fallen by the wayside — and was even labeled as neglectful in many situations. Millennials grew up with lots of supervision and tons of activities. They were also notorious for winning participation ribbons. 

2. Millennials are more tech-savvy.

Millennials are much more tech-savvy than their older counterparts. By the time the oldest millennials were 10, most homes had a computer and video games. This trend has continued into their adulthoods. They often prefer navigating shopping, personal finance, and other essentials through an app, and they use social media at higher rates than Gen X.

Although Gen X didn’t grow up with the same level of technology, they know how to navigate it. They use technology for work and play. They just don’t use it as much as Millennials. They also tend to gravitate toward older media sources such as TV and radio when they’re consuming news and entertainment. 

3. Gen X often sees work as just a job.

When asked about work, Gen X often says “it’s just a job.” Millennials, in contrast, tend to want a much deeper connection with their work. They want fulfillment from their careers. They want to feel as if their work matters to their community or to the world. 

Despite these basic differences, millennials and Gen X have similar job patterns. While many people think that millennials don’t stay at their jobs as long as older generations, the numbers tell a different story. In 2016, close to two-thirds of millennials had been at their jobs for over a year. Twenty years earlier, Gen Xers had similar retention rates.

4. Millennials are more likely to be college educated. 

Millennials are more likely to be college educated than the Gen X crowd. Approximately, 38% of millennial men and 46% of millennial women had a college degree. In contrast, only about a third of Gen Xers of either gender have a college degree. 

5. Their generations were shaped by different social and political events.

These generations are different because they were shaped by different social and political events. The older Gen Xers remember Watergate and the younger ones remember the end of the Cold War. Their generation was also shaped by an increasing divorce rate and moms going to work.

Older millennials experienced 9/11 just as they were becoming adults, and while the younger part of this generation was barely alive when 9/11 happened, they grew up under the shadow of terrorist attacks. Although their parents were also very likely to be divorced, this generation grew up sheltered. Their parents wanted to protect them from the world.  

Feel like you have traits of both generations? Well, you may be right. People who were born on the cusp of these generations often feel more tech-savvy than their older Gen X counterparts, but they don’t feel completely akin to the Millennial vibe either. These in-betweeners take on the name Xennnials, and they often bridge the differences between these two generations.