Millennial Definition & Meaning (Generation Y)

A Millennial is the demographic cohort following Generation X and preceding Generation Z. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial, which is also known as Generation Y. The term “echo boomers” often relates to millennials because they are the offspring of baby boomers. This generation is identified by three key events: the 9/11 attack, the Great Recession, and the explosion of the internet. Most Millennials have first-hand experience with the internet, mobile devices, and social media, which resulted in a slang term of calling this generation “digital natives”. The creators of the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory, which describes a recurring generational cycle, are credited with coming up with the name for this cohort in 1987. The term millennial was actually derived from the fact that the oldest members of this generation became adults around the turn of the third millennium.

Comparing millennials to other generations

Comparing this group to older generations has become much easier now that the youngest group of Millennials have reached adulthood. Some key characteristics that set this generation a part from older generations is an increase in confidence, tolerance, sense of entitlement, and narcissism. Some identified basic traits of Millennials include special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving. However, applying all seven traits to each member of this generational cohort has proven to be controversial.

Millennials rarely identify with their generation, unlike older generations who feel a strong belonging to theirs. Overall, this generation is more educated than older generations, and Millennial women are more likely to work than older women. This increase in education has caused a delay in Millennial marriages and the formation of families as well as individuals living with parents for longer than other generations.The Great Recession and the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted this cohort the most, causing extremely high levels of unemployment. This group is credited with bringing more racial and ethnic diversity to the American society as well. This group also holds immense political power because they are the second largest voting generation after the Baby Boomers.

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Elise Lapointe
Elise Lapointe
Elisa LaPointe is a Webopedia contributor.

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