As the new decade begins, a fresh generation of leaders and decision-makers is now emerging on the world stage. With the last of the Silent Generation passing away, and the Baby Boomers waning in their influence, the so-called “Generation X” is coming into power.
Born between the late 1960s and early 1980s, Gen-Xers are more heterogeneous than previous groups: diverse in race, class, culture and ethnicity. They are more liberal and progressive than their parents,* with less respect for rules, authority and established policies. They are less likely to be religious. For most or all of their lives, they have grown up surrounded by computers – making them savvy and comfortable with technology, flexible and more open to new ideas. They have more concern for the environment, are more likely to believe in climate change and are generally more accepting of science.
Angry at the social, political and economic legacy bequeathed to them, the Gen-Xers are using their newfound power to build a different kind of world. They are no longer willing to bow to the demands of the Baby Boomers – who many feel have robbed them of their future. They are also not willing to let the Millennials (Generation Y) get a free ride when it comes to paying their fair share.*
From 2020 onwards, there is a shift of money and resources away from senior citizens and towards those in their middle years. Property and inheritance laws, pensions, retirement plans and a number of elderly benefits undergo significant changes, as Gen-Xers work to stem the gap between themselves and their parents.
Banks and financial institutions are finally reformed this decade – though not without a fight, and not to the extent that many voters would prefer. However, there is now at least some focus on long term accountability, rather than short term profits and risk-taking. Employees gain more rights, freedoms and flexibility in the workplace, with offices becoming more casual and informal. Social media and other technologies continue to drive the spread of democracy around the world.
Thanks to the Gen-Xers, many countries begin to relax their laws on private recreational drug use, gay marriage, prostitution, euthanasia and so on. Legalisation and taxation of cannabis adds significantly to government revenues whilst helping to lower crime rates. Scientific research and environmental protection are given higher priorities. These trends were emerging in any case, but are now being accelerated by the Gen-Xers.
The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election, Pew Research Center:
Accessed 20th November 2011.
21 The Looming Gen X Global Revolution of 2020, The Huffington Post:
Accessed 19th November 2011.