The cutoff for being born into Generation X was about 1980, the cutoff for Generation Y (a.k.a. the Millennials) was about 1996, and the cutoff for Generation Z was about 2010. What should the next batch of babies be called—what comes after Z?
Alpha, apparently. That’s the (Greek) letter that the unofficial namers of generations—marketers, researchers, cultural commentators, and the like—have affixed to Gen Z’s successors, the oldest of whom are on the cusp of turning 10. The Generation Alpha label, if it lasts, follows the roughly 15-year cycle of generational delineations. Those delineations keep coming, even as, because of a variety of demographic factors, they seem to be getting less and less meaningful as a way of segmenting the population; in recent decades, there hasn’t been a clear-cut demographic development, like the postwar baby boom, to define a generation around, so the dividing lines are pretty arbitrary. How much do members of this new generation, or any generation, really have in common?
A picture of Generation Alpha, if a blurry one, is starting to emerge. In various articles about its members, analysts have stated that they are or will grow up to be the best-educated generation ever, the most technologically immersed, the wealthiest, and the generation more likely than any in the past century to spend some or all of their childhood in living arrangements without both of their biological parents. These are all notable features, but some of them are broad and fairly low-stakes observations, given that the global population has been getting richer, better educated, and more exposed to digital technology for a while now.