Move over Millennials: meet Generation Alpha

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

From the ageing concerns of Baby Boomers, to the perceived entitlement of Millennials (or Gen Y as they are otherwise known), we love discussing generational issues. 

Last year the birth years for Gen X, Gen Y and 'Post millennials' were redefined by the Pew Research Center. Using the historical markers of 9/11 and the 2008 global recession, researchers named 1996 as the cutoff birth year for Millennials, and introduced the generation after as 'Post-Millennials'.

It's a broad term that encapsulates two emerging generations - Gen Z (born 1997 to 2010) and for those born in 2010 and after, Gen Alpha. The Pew Research Center writes that, "Generational cutoff points aren't an exact science", so we can assume that the cutoffs for Gen Z and Gen Alpha have yet to be defined according to historical events and technological advances.

Jay Serafino of Mental Floss agrees with Pew that defining the generations serves a sociological purpose, adding, "They're simply tools to analyse the different shifts in how age groups are experiencing the world - socially, economically, politically, and technologically."

While Pew's report focuses primarily on Millennials and touches on emerging Gen Z characteristics, Australian social researchers McCrindle provided some predictive insight into what our Gen A kids will be like.

The world in 2034

Some 2,500,000 Gen Alpha babies are born every week, and by 2030, they will make up 11 per cent of the workforce, according to McCrindle. 

If the moon landing is the social marker of the Baby Boomers, and the Global Financial Crisis Gen Y's, then it's predicted that Trump and Brexit will define the beginning years of our Gen A children. 

What will the world be like in 2034, when Gen Alpha comes of age?

- Australia's population will reach 32 million - up from current 25 million.

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- The most common households will be couples and the child-free, with the highest proportion of over 60s in recorded history.

- The world's population size will be double what their Millennial parents were born into. It's estimated to reach 8.8 billion in 2034.

Digital natives

The characteristics of this generation? McCrindle says Gen Alpha will be the most global, digital, mobile, social and visual generation yet.

"They are logged on and linked up – known as 'digital natives'. They are the most materially endowed and technologically literate generation to ever grace the planet."

Hotwire's report says that Gen Alpha will be 'super-specialists', with brains wired for a 'narrow domain' of technical problems.

Masters degrees in specialist areas will be standard, and they will be a challenge to keep motivated in the workplace, favouring a project-based approach to keep things fresh.

Technology will define life for this generation; emotionally-developed AI, voice-activated and gesture-based communications, and increasingly personalised devices will be part of their every day.

Hotwire also suggests Gen Alphas will have 'multiple online identities' to suit different purposes, with 'varying levels of intimacy.'

"On one platform, for instance, they may live-stream their innermost thoughts to a select group of close friends. On another they may post stylishly curated photos for the whole world to see."

This infographic illustrates just how different Gen Alpha will be compared to its predecessors.

Many will reach the age of 100

- Gen Alpha will be the longest-lived generation yet, with many achieving centenarian status.

- They will also be the wealthiest, which will serve them well as they bear the weight of ageing Millennials and Gen Xers.

Photo: McCrindle

Photo: McCrindle

Curious about the birth years for other generations? Here are the cutoffs defined by the Pew Research Center.

The Silent Generation

Born 1928 to 1945 (74-91 years old)

Baby Boomers

Born 1946 to 1964 (55-73 years old)

Generation X

Born 1965 to 1980 (39-54 years old)

Millennials

Born 1981 to 1996 (23-38 years old)

Post-Millennials (includes Gen Z and Gen Alpha)

Born 1997 to 2019 (0-22 years old)