Generation X not angst-ridden slackers after all

Illustration for article titled Generation X not angst-ridden slackers after all

Despite being typecast as whiny slackers who feel overly-entitled, it appears Generation X has done okay for themselves according to a new study.


The Generation X Report has been tracking members of this demographic by surveying them every year from 1987 until 2010. It's worth noting that they define Generation X as those born between 1961 and 1981, but in other discussions I've seen, the ending year of that period as early as 1980 and as late as 1985, so take that as you will.

These once wasteful youths are now over 30, and have become mature and successful adults, much to the shock of their own parents. The study paints a picture of them as hard-working and well-employed, with close ties to their community and friends:

• Compared to a national sample of all adults, Gen Xers are more likely to be employed and are working and commuting significantly more hours a week than the typical U.S. adult, with 70 percent spending 40 or more hours working and commuting each week.
• Two-thirds of Generation X adults are married and 71 percent have minor children at home.
• Three-quarters of the parents of elementary school children say they help their children with homework, with 43 percent providing five or more hours of homework help each week.
• Thirty percent of Generation X adults are active members of professional, business or union organizations, and one in three is an active member of a church or religious organization.
• Ninety-five percent talk on the phone at least once a week to friends or family, and 29 percent say they do so at least once a day.
• Ninety percent participate in at least one outdoor activity per month.
• 45% attended at least one play, symphony, opera or ballet in the last year.

This stands in contrast to many older descriptions of Generation X as a group of disaffected loners facing increasing social isolation.

This release is the first in a series of quarterly reports on Generation X, and can be read here (PDF link).


Annalee Newitz

This is the first time I've heard anyone talk about Generation X as if it mattered in a really long time. I'm not sure what that means.