The Striking Generational Divide, Explained

Generational “finger-pointing” is not a novel concept and has existed for centuries within multitude of generations, each blaming the other for issues and ideas neither generation wants to take accountability for.  Both Gen Y (people born between the years 1980-1994) and Gen Z (people born between the years 1995-2010) have formed an alliance to push back on the older generations, specifically the Baby Boomers. A clash of ideas and a point of difference of views on society has struck tension between generations, preventing a progressive society from fully forming.

The younger generation is racially diverse, environmentally and socially conscious, and have a clear vision for how they want their future to unfold (Valencia-Garcia 2020). However, it is apparent that the ideas of the younger generations contrast sharply with older generations, who tend to reject policy reforms or ideas presented by the youth. A difference in “expectations of the future, ethics and politics” (Birnstengel 2019) has formed a generational split and prevents society from progressing entirely. The generational divide is not only based on family morals and ethics but is also an accumulation of different people living fundamentally different lives and experiencing different circumstances in general. Technology and politics are two key factors that have continually evolved through generations and have influenced generation’s perspective on society deeply (Birnstengel 2019).

Today, the debate on generationalism is centered around how a nation should look and exactly what kinds of people should be a part of that nation. Millennials and Gen Z have been defined by the rise of the internet and identity politics. They grew up with the internet, but also remember a life in analogue (Frey 2020). They have experienced economic crises and watched the War on Terror unfold, and as a result are concerned for their futures due to the large influence capitalist and traditionalist institutions still have on society (Valencia-Garcia 2020). Older generations are wanting to protect these outdated institutions that uphold their own old-fashioned values in order to push their agendas on the nation. Pew Research centre research found that the upcoming younger generation was the most ethically and racially diverse generation to date, fundamentally driving their progressive attitudes (Birnstengel 2019).

A distinct issue that has caused great generational divide is the climate crisis. Younger people across the world have grown up with more exposure to the effects of climate change than the older generations (Cohen 2019). Thus, young adults in current day are of higher concern about climate change as they understand the implications better and are more educated on the topic. The attitudes of younger generations and their beliefs has pushed an agenda to resolve the climate crisis dramatically, creating very real social change that is being reflected in policy changes around the world (Cohen 2019). Although the impacts of climate change are ever present and should be dealt with immediately, the push for policy change around the environment is a reflection of the youth’s priorities for society. Along with climate change, issues such as racial justice and social inclusivity are other examples of younger generations pushing important issues.

Older generations accuse younger generations of naivety and younger generations don’t understand their parochialism. Potentially, a middle ground could be met where older generations feel their needs are being fulfilled while society continues to progress as a whole. However, generational gaps will continue to arise if unity is not formed or perceptions do not alter to accommodate for one another



Birnstengel, G 2019, Boomer Blaming, Finger Pointing and The Generational Divide, Forbes, retrieved February 2 2021

Cohen, S 2019, The Age Gap in Environmental Politics, Earth Institute, Columbia University, retrieved February 2 2021

Frey, W 2020, The 2020s can end America’s generational divide in politics, Brookings, retrieved February 2 2021

Valencia-Garcia, L 2020, Understanding Today’s Generational Divide, Fair Observer, retrieved February 2 2021

Writer : Emily Camilleri

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

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