From Baby Boomers To Gen Z: Here’s A Breakdown Of When Each Generation Begins And Ends

We were all raised very differently.

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You've probably heard terms like "Millennial" and "Generation X" being thrown around a lot.

And with so many other buzzwords being used today, it can be confusing trying to differentiate them.

To put it simply, there are mainly four generations still living today in Malaysia

These are the baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (also called Millennials) and Generation Z.

Generational theory is a concept that refers to the idea that each generation possesses their own unique set of traits

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Generations are grouped because it is believed that people who grew up sharing the same events and experiences will have similar views and perspectives on life.

Generational theorists have long done studies on the differences in values, attitudes, behaviours and lifestyles of the different generations.

However, many of the studies that have been done are largely based on an American society and so cannot represent the world as a whole.

The term baby boomers, for example, is named so to represent the booming of babies being born during that time in the Western world. Meanwhile, it would be impossible to observe a similar boom in Malaysia.

The years associated with each generation might differ slightly as well. Since Malaysia has progressed at a slightly slower pace than most other Western nations, our generational years will usually start later and end later.

Here's a breakdown of each generation:

1. Baby boomers (Born 1943 – 1960)

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Baby boomers refer to the people who were born just after the World War II.

They are said to be tolerant, self-sufficient, hardworking, disciplined, committed and are team players. They also believe that having manners are important and that respect needs to be earned.

Baby boomers in Malaysia can also be referred to as the 'Merdeka babies'. They have seen Malaysia pre-independence, experienced independence and seen the initial development of the country. They were also born during a period of conflict, hardship and struggle.

Here are key events that happened in their era:

1. The struggle for Independence
2. The formation of the Kesatuan Melayu Muda (Young Malays Union), the first nationalist political organization in British Malaya fighting for Malay rights and against British Imperialism
3. The Emergency Era (1948 – 1960)
4. The Japanese Occupancy
5. The launching of the First Malayan Plan (1956-1960)

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This generation grew up with a much less structured education system than we're used to. Education was also not fully government supported. A majority of Malaysians were still living in kampungs and many parents did not intend on sending their kids to school.

After World War II, when the Japanese ceased occupation of Malaya, the country's economy was falling. There were high levels of unemployment, low wage, inflation and working conditions were worse than ever.

Thus, Merdeka babies are said to have generally been through more hardships than any other living generation. They are also the most English savvy among the other generations since they were under British rule.

2. Generation X (Born 1961 – 1981)

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Gen Xers are said to be responsible, adaptable, goal orientated and effective. They are also good at time management and are able to multitask. They care a lot about having security and stability in their lives.

Gen X had experienced Malaysia's industrialisation as they grew up. They have seen Malaysia transform from a nation focused on agriculture to high-end manufacturing.

Here are key events that happened in their era:

1. Major developments in education
2. Implementation of the New Economic Policy (1971)
3. Beginning of industrialisation in better of the country
4. Urbanisation

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Many more people in this generation were educated compared to the previous ones. They were also the first generation in schools to have Bahasa Melayu be the medium of instruction. Malaysia's first public funded universities, University of Malaya and Universiti Sains Malaysia, had also just been established. It was during this era that many began to pursue tertiary education.

3. Generation Y / Millennials (Born 1982 – 2004)

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Millennials are said to be independent, creative and achievement oriented. They are avid users of technology and enjoy networking. They value a good work-life balance.

Malaysian Millennials were born in the golden years of Malaysian Development. They grew up in a booming economy and had a much higher standard of living compared to previous generations.

Here are key events that happened in their era:

1. Increase in access to higher education
2. Rise of TV and Internet
3. Initiation of Vision 2020
4. Transformation in employment (from agricultural to industry to services)
5. Rise in economic growth
6. Rise in employment opportunities

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This was the first generation where the majority lived in urban areas. However, it was still normal for kids to play outside their houses and run around the neighbourhood.

This generation was the first to be under the new Education act and saw the benefits of an improved education system. Enrolling in university also started to become the norm as it became expected for every child to eventually obtain a degree. The percentage of women pursuing higher education had also increased drastically with women in this generation being more likely than men to graduate.

4. Generation Z (Born 2005 onwards)

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Researchers believe that Generation Z will be technology-reliant, visually-driven and have global aspirations. They will reject conformity and tradition. They will also be more open-minded and accepting compared to other generations.

Here are some predictions for the world Generation Z will grow up in:

1. It will be the most educated and urbanised
2. Travelling will become more accessible
3. They will have a higher income
4. There will be advanced development in Internet and communication technologies
5. The population will start to balance out which will lead to more intense competition for jobs

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Gen Zs in Malaysia are also more likely to be raised by grandparents or maids compared to any other generation. This is because it is now more common than ever for both parents in a household to go to work.

Because of the country's current decreasing birth rate, Gen Zs are also the generation with the least number of siblings in Malaysian history.

It is likely that this generation will develop more 'alternative' and unconventional stances on issues compared to their parents. This is due to their increasing access to alternative media via various platforms.

Which generation are you? :)

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