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Understanding differences between generations, and finding ways to live

together in harmony

Written by Researcher Sung Joon Jo

Seoul, August 2020


Nowadays, the global society consists of various generations and population groups.

The advancement of medical technology has dramatically increased life expectancies,

allowing different generations to live together in harmony. Every individual,

regardless of generation, experience a myriad of events throughout life, which

altogether play an important role in forming one’s values, beliefs, and behaviors.

Especially, what people experience during early stages of life – during infancy and

adolescence – has a pivotal role in one’s cognitive development. As different events

take place during different time periods, individuals from each period have distinctive

ways of thinking and behavior patterns. Such differences are the basis for setting

generational cohorts, groups of people who were born at the same time periods.


The Concept of ‘Generational Cohort’

Generational cohorts are defined by birth year instead of current age. This is because

generations get older in groups. When referring to a certain generational cohort, for

instance the millennials, you are not thinking of them as a certain stage in life; those

who belong to the cohort will age and enter different stages of life as time passes. In

other words, although individuals who belong to the millennials are aged between 24

and 39 currently, they will get older in the future, but the time period at which they

were born will remain unchanged. Generation cohorts are commonly used for

marketing, as different generation groups display distinctive consumption patterns

which makes it easy for marketers to predict consumer behaviors. When talking about

generational cohorts, people usually refer to 4 groups: The Baby boomers, Generation

X, Generation Y (also known as the Millennials), and Generation Z. The Generation

Z, or Gen Z for short, is the youngest generation among the four, and the Gen Zs are

true digital natives. What are the characteristics of Gen Zs, and what makes them so



General characteristics of each generation cohort


Before discussing the attributes of Gen Z, it would be crucial to gain understanding of

each generation cohort. The first cohort to be discussed is known as the ‘Baby

boomers.’ The Baby boomers refer to people born during the baby boom, - from 1946

to 1964 – a period in which birth rate increased at an unprecedented rate following the

end of the Second World War. The Boomers rely on traditional means of gaining

information such as television, magazines, radio, and newspaper. The Generation X is

defined as individuals born around 1965 to 1980, following the baby boomers. Most

members of the Generation X are children of the early baby boomers and the

generation before the boomers – the Silent Generation. Due to increased number of

women in the workplace, the Gen Xers faced reduced parent supervision and were

called the “latchkey generation.” Generation Y, also known as the Millennials, are

people born from 1981 to 1996. The Millennials are mostly children of baby boomers

and generation X. They have come of age during a time of technological change,

globalization and economic disruption, according to a Goldman Sachs research.

Lastly, the Generation Z are the demographic cohort that succeeds the Millennials.

Most members of the Gen Z have been exposed to the Internet and digital technology

since birth. The Internet and social media have become indispensable parts of their

lives, and it is also known that the Gen Zs are realistic, ambitious, and flexible in

workplaces. Then, how exactly are the Gen Z unique from the preceding generations?


How are the Gen Zs unique from the earlier generations?

So, it seems quite obvious that there are both differences are similarities between the

Gen Zs and the early generations. The main difference would be access to advanced

technology; members that belong to Generation Z have been able to enjoy the

convenience brought by technology. There are also a number of differences that make

the Gen Zs unique. The Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse compared to

previous generations, and they are known to be the best-educated generation. Using

digital technology to facilitate education, the Gen Zers are more likely to enroll

college compared to the earlier generations, and they are more likely to have a


college-educated parent.


Moreover, Gen Zers are more tolerant when it comes to accepting LGBT rights and

same-sex marriage. They also feel more comfortable using gender-neutral language

compared to the older generations.

Another difference worth mentioning would be the unique working habit of the Gen

Zs. It is widely accepted that the generation Z prefers security and stability in the

work place. This is because they have experienced the Great Recession as children,

witnessing the hardships and struggles caused by the prolonged economic downturn.

As a result, the Gen Zers are highly pragmatic, meaning that they focus on security

and money. The Gen Zs are more competitive compared to the millennials. While the

millennials reportedly prefer collaborative work, the Gen Zs want to work on their

own and acknowledge the fact that skill development is necessary to stay relevant at

the workplace. Moreover, Gen Zs want independence, and they are more likely to

multi-task compared to the millennials. And surprisingly, the Gen Zs prefer face-to-

face discussion over emailing and messaging.

In Summary, the Gen Zs in the workplace…

 Prefer stability and security

 Desire to work individually rather than relying on someone else

 Are likely to multitask

 Understand that competition is inevitable


Future Prospects – How are the Gen Zs less likely to be affected by global


Up to this point, we have learned that Gen Zs are unique in that they are true digital-

natives. Some question whether Gen Zs are more immune to global crises that might

take place in the recent future. In light of the information we have discussed about the

Gen Z, the answer seems to be “yes.” The reason lies in the unique characteristics of

the Gen Zs. Namely, they have lived in a connected-community, where people are able

to share information and communicate constantly. When faced with a predicament, the

Gen Zers will be able to find a way out by sharing information on the Internet. Taking

full advantage of developed technology, the Gen Zs will be able to overcome


hardships better than any other generation. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the Gen Zs

are realistic, ambitious, and flexible workplaces. Global crises - such as war,

economic recession, and epidemics – require rapid and dynamic changes in the way

people work. COVID 19 has brought massive upheavals in the business world: the

spread of the pandemic has changed not only consumption patterns but also marketing

strategies. More than that, most in-person interaction and meetings have been

switched to online meetings via Skype and Zoom. Since the Gen Zs are not only

familiar with digital technology but also flexible, they will be able to quickly adapt to

new environments and overcome difficulties.


Future Generations

We are living in an era of science and technology. The development of technology has

continued to affect our lives greater than ever, and will definitely continue to bring

changes to the global society. We still do not know everything about the different

generations, but we do know one thing for sure. That is, the advancement of

technology has enriched peoples’ lives, fueled national growth, brought unique

characteristics among different generations, and will continue to change the world.

At the same time, we are living in an era of great diversity – race, gender, and

generation. Soon, the Generation Alpha, a more digitally savvy generation, will

assume positions in workplaces, competing with earlier generations. As new

generations continue to emerge, we must find ways for the co-existence of diverse

generations. We ought to remember that there are differences among different

generations. We ought to understand and accept the differences, communicate with

one another, and help each other out to harmonize pre-existing generations and new



References - Millennials, baby boomers or Gen Z: Which one are you and

what does it mean?

art5910718593/ - The Generation Guide

know-about-gen-z-so-far/ On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future:

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