Dear M & M: Why should I care and does it make any difference in society or business when looking at generational differences? – Tom

Dear Tom: First, let’s consider: Are you a Baby Boomer, a Gen-Xer, a Millennial, or in Generation Z?

Here is the breakdown, so you can see where you fall. Baby Boomers: People born from 1944-1964. Currently 55-75 years old. Generation X (aka Gen-X): People born from 1965-1979, currently 40-54 years old, also known as the “MTV generation.” Generation Y (aka Millennials): People born from 1980-1994. Currently 25-39 years old. Also known as the “avocado toast” generation. Generation Z (aka Gen-Z): The newest generation, and the generation after Millennials. People born from 1995-2015. Currently 4-24 years old. (Source Melanie Curtin, Inc. Magazine).

From fashion trends to what we eat to the music we listen to all have some influences from each generation. According to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2016 (the latest date for which population estimates are available), Millennials in 2016 numbered 71 million, and Boomers numbered 74 million. Millennials are expected to overtake Boomers in population in 2019 as their numbers swell to 73 million and Boomers decline to 72 million. Generation X is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.

Baby Boomers have always had an outsize presence compared with other generations. They peaked at 78.8 million in 1999 and have remained the largest living adult generation. There were an estimated 74.1 million Boomers in 2016. By midcentury, the Boomer population is projected to dwindle to 16.6 million.

Understanding age differences, cultural experiences and society’s influence on each group will enable you to see patterns consistent with each group to better understand their expectations and attitudes.

Generational cutoff points are never an exact science. The Pew Research Center that analyzes most of this data sums it up best. “Keep in mind that generations are a lens through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups.”

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.

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