Here’s an interesting fact about millennials that may not have occurred to you: This year, the oldest members of that generation are turning 37. By any definition, that puts them well into adulthood.
Pew Research Center, which has been studying millennials since 2007, announced last week that it would use 1996 as the last birth year for this cohort in its future work in order to keep the grouping analytically meaningful.
That means people born between 1981 and 1996 — turning 22 to 37 this year — will be considered millennials. Those born in 1997 and later will be part of the next generation, a moniker for which is yet to be decided.
Pew’s announcement, written by the center’s president, Michael Dimock, noted that generational cutoff years are not an exact science, but should be seen mainly as tools that enable researchers to examine differences in public attitudes toward key issues.
No formula exists for how long a generational span should be, Dimock said. Pew’s span will be 16 years, he said, the same as that of Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1980), but three years shorter than that of baby boomers (1946 to 1964), the only generation officially designated by the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Unlike the boomers, there are no comparably definitive thresholds by which later generational boundaries are defined,” he said. “But for analytical purposes, we believe 1996 is a meaningful cutoff between millennials and post-millennials for a number of reasons, including key political, economic and social factors that define the millennial generation’s formative years.”