How Generation X Works

Generation X Facts

Think you know all there is to know about Generation X? Some of these X-facts might surprise you:

  • Douglas Coupland popularized the term "Generation X" when his novel of the same name was published in 1991; however, he didn't coin the phrase. The term "Generation X" first appeared as the title of a 1950s Robert Capa photo essay, though legend has it that Coupland took the term from Billy Idol's former band Generation X.
  • The defined era of Generation X is fuzzy around the edges. The period between 1965 and 1981 is most often cited as Generation X, but some sources list 1964 as Gen-X's inaugural year, and the cut off dates range from 1976 to 1981. We're playing it safe and saying that Generation Xers were born between the mid-60s to the early 80s.
  • With only 46 million members (as opposed to 80 million Baby Boomers and 78 million Millennials), Gen-Xers have barely half the market share of the generations that preceded and came after them [source: Stephey].
  • Generation X gives back. From huge Gen-X success stories like Google to hometown endeavors like Atlanta's all-volunteer fitness program Boot Camp 4A Cause (BC4C), Xers are known to be philanthropic. In 2010, Google's charitable giving totaled more than $184 million [source:]. BC4C is even more philanthropic, donating 100 percent of its net profits to local charities [source:].
  • Born Aug. 4, 1961, President Barack Obama just misses the Generation X cutoff. His wife Michelle Obama, however, can be considered one the very first Gen-Xers. Like other Xers, she's well-educated, with a law degree from Harvard. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a passion for public service that continues to this day through her popular "Let's Move!" campaign.
  • In the late 80s and early 90s, Gen-Xers turned the music industry on its head -- first with neo-folk music by artists such as Tracy Chapman and the Indigo Girls, and later with alt-rock grunge with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Lyrically and sonically, this new music evidenced reflected the rawness, depth and honesty of Generation X. Bassist Krist Novoselic referred to Nirvana's breakout hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as "a call to consciousness." [source:].

Now that you've got your X-facts straight, explore everything else Generation X has to offer. You'll find related articles and lots more information after the jump.

Related Articles


  • Arnold, Eve. "Robert Capra Remembered." The Independent. Oct. 13, 1996. (May 7, 2011)
  • "Bootcamp 4A Cause." 2011. (April 14, 2011)
  • Carlson, Peter. "Wild Generalization X." The Washington Post. April 11, 2006. (May 7, 2011)
  • "Philanthropy @ Google." 2011. (May 14, 2011)
  • Gordiner, Jeff. "How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking." Viking Press. 2008. (May 7, 2011)
  • "Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit." (May 7, 2011)
  • Stephay, M.J. "Gen-X: The Ignored Generation?" Time Magazine. April 16, 2008. (May 7, 2011),8599,1731528,00.html
  • Thielfoldt, Diane and Scheef, Devon. "Generation X and the Millennials: What You Need To Know About Mentoring The New Generations." November 2005. (May 7, 2011)