Nearly seven in ten (68%) young Americans (ages 18-25) see their generation as unique and distinct from other generations, a sentiment held by young people across the board – men, women, conservative, moderate, white and non-white. Still, while most Gen Nexters see themselves as part of a unique cohort, they are hardpressed to come up with a word or phrase to describe their generation. In fact, they had an easier time describing their parents’ generation than they did their own. When respondents in a Pew survey were asked to give one word or phrase that best describes their generation, no single response was offered by more than a handful of Gen Nexters. Those offered varied widely, ranging from “lazy” to “crazy” to “fun.” When asked to describe their parents’ generation, Nexters used words like “hard-working,” “conservative” and “hippie.” Generation Next is not the only generation that lacks a clear identity. Even those in the Baby Boom generation (age 41-60) seemed hard-pressed to answer the question: roughly 10% of them offered up the term “Baby Boomer” when asked what one word or phrase best described their generation. Beyond that, there was not a great deal of agreement, even among this group. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.