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Gen X is the common term for the “baby bust” generation that followed the baby boomers from 1965 until about 1980. It is the abbreviation for “Generation X.” Gen X numbers only about 58 million members and now faces the expenses of both raising their own children and meeting the needs of their aging baby boomer parents.
“Gen X” is the most common way of referring to the generation that followed the baby boomers. It is more formally Generation X and includes those born in 1965 and through to approximately 1980 or even as far as 1982. Some writers even limit it to the period ending in 1976. Gen X is sometimes called the “baby bust” generation since the birthrate steeply declined from the post war baby boomers years in 1965 and continued low until the “echo boomers” of Generation Y.
While the baby boomer group was a large 78 million, the numbers of Gen X are estimated at only about 51 million individuals. A great many of this generation are the children of baby boomers and boomers had much smaller families than their parents. They were far more likely to have two or fewer children while the parents of boomers routinely had three or more children.
Part of this may have been due to economic decline during the Gen X years and less willingness to pay the costs of childbearing. Another factor may also be the awareness by the parents of Gen X of the issue of world overpopulation and subscribing to the policy of zero population growth, having only as many children as it takes to replace yourself or even less.
In addition, the freedom from unwanted or unplanned pregnancies that came along with the advent of the birth control pill meant that women could defer childbearing and remain in the workforce longer. Although this meant fewer children being born, it increased the likelihood of better financial stability when they did come along. Society was also becoming much more open to the concept of working mothers and two income families.
Some baby boomers parents of Gen X children have even referred to them as the “yo-yo generation” because many of them struck out on their own but ended up returning home due to failed marriages and career adversities. Many boomer parents found themselves with empty nests that were suddenly full again and not a few even ended up raising their grandchildren.
The children of Gen X are now beginning to face the challenges of aging parents who may in turn need help and support from their children. In addition, their taxes have to bear much of the load for programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Gen X is facing the challenges of meeting the needs of the huge generation of baby boomers as they retire at the same time as many of them are raising their own families as this generation has also often postponed childbearing.