What is a 'Generation Gap'

A generation gap consists of the differences in opinions expressed by members of two different generations. More specifically, a generation gap can be used to describe the differences in actions, beliefs and tastes members of younger generations when compared to members of older generations regarding politics, values and other matters. While generation gaps have been prevalent throughout all periods of history, the breadth of differences of these gaps has widened in the 20th and 21st centuries.

BREAKING DOWN 'Generation Gap'

Generation gaps play big roles in businesses, as companies must find ways to balance the needs and views of individuals from differing age groups. Businesses must be aware of the changing demographics of their client base, as gender gaps can have drastic effects on their business as well as the overall business cycle.

History of Generation Gap

The term "generation gap" was first used in the 1960s. During that time, the younger generation – which is now referred to as the baby boomers – showed a significant difference in their beliefs and opinions compared to what their parents' generation projected.

Since the emergence of generation gaps, sociologists have coined it as institutional age segregation and have divided the lifespan of an individual into three parts: childhood, midlife and retirement. One of the most notable findings in the study of the generation gap is the isolation of members of other generations when an individual is engaged in his generation's primary activity.

For example, millennials – individuals born between 1982 and 2002 – are called technology natives because the members of this generation grew up and lived with technology. The use of technology is a significant part of a typical millennial's activity. When a member of another generation – typically an older generation – approaches a millennial for help in using such technologies, a wide difference between knowledge on technology becomes evident. Older generations are not associated with technology as much as millennials are. As such, businesses focusing on technology isolate those generations that do not understand their products as much as millennials do.

How Generations Are Distinguished

There are many ways to differentiate generations from one another. These generations have been divided into major groups, known as traditionals, baby boomers, generation X and millennials. Each generation has its own characteristics that impact the way society does business with the members of that generation. Generations can also be divided according to group's language, technological influences, workplace attitudes, general consciousness and way of life.

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