What year were Generation Z born?

Generation Z, often abbreviated as Gen Z, refers to the demographic cohort born between the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2010s. There is some debate around the exact birth years that define Generation Z, but most sources agree that Gen Z begins with those born in 1995 or later.

Defining Generation Z

Generation Z follows Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1994/6. While there is no consensus on the exact cut-off between Millennials and Gen Z, most researchers use the mid-1990s as the starting birth years for Generation Z.

Here are some common definitions used to mark the start of Gen Z:

  • Born in 1995 or later (Pew Research Center)
  • Born between 1995-2012 (Business Insider)
  • Born between 1997-2012 (Forbes)
  • Born after 1996 (McCrindle Research)

As you can see, 1995 is a common starting birth year used to define Generation Z. However, some organizations extend the start back a few years to between 1994-1996. Overall, the mid-1990s to early 2000s are considered the Gen Z birth years.

Ending Birth Years for Gen Z

Pinpointing the ending birth years for Gen Z is more challenging than identifying the start. Most sources agree Generation Z ends between the early to mid-2010s, but the exact end date is uncertain due to the group still coming of age.

Here are some proposed ending birth years for Gen Z:

  • Born between 1995-2009 (Business Insider)
  • Born between 1997-2012 (Forbes)
  • Born between 1995-2010 (McCrindle Research)
  • Born between 1996-2010 (Dimock, Pew Research)

Based on these definitions, Generation Z spans birth years between the mid-1990s and early to mid-2010s. Most experts agree Gen Z ends somewhere between 2009-2012, though some extend it a few years earlier to between 2010-2012.

Core Generation Z Birth Years

While the start and end years for Gen Z vary slightly between organizations, the core birth years that nearly all definitions include are:

  • 1995-1999
  • 1997-2004
  • 1995-2005

Researchers generally agree that those born in the late 1990s to early 2000s are undisputed members of Gen Z. The grey area emerges more around those born in the mid-1990s and the end years.

Based on analyzing the various Generation Z definitions, the core birth years for Gen Z can be summarized as the late 1990s to early 2000s, or approximately 1997-2004.

How Generations Are Defined

Generations are defined by more than just birth years. Common experiences and historical events also shape generational cohorts. Here are some factors that define Generation Z:

  • Technology – Gen Z is the first fully digital generation, exposed to the internet, social media and smartphones from a young age.
  • World Events – Gen Z grew up in a post-9/11 world, in the shadow of the War on Terror and Great Recession.
  • Cultural Trends – Gen Z is more progressive, diverse, and concerned about social justice than previous generations.
  • Behaviors & Attitudes – Gen Z tends to be more pragmatic, financially-focused, and attracted to freelance work compared to Millennials.

While birth years help demarcate generations, it’s important to remember that generational cohorts are defined by social and historical influences. The Gen Z experience is shaped by the technological and societal changes of the late 1990s through today.

Generation Z Overlap with Millennials

With Generation Z starting in the mid-to-late 1990s, there is inevitable overlap between Gen Z and Millennials for those born in the 1994-1999 period. Individuals born in the latter 1990s share both Gen Z and Millennial traits.

For example, someone born in 1998 was a child at the turn of the millennium, but came of age with social media. This “Zillennial” blurring highlights the fluidity between generational boundaries rather than hard cut-offs.

In summary, here is an overview of the Generation Z birth years and overlap with Millennials:

  • Core Millennials: 1981-1993
  • Generation Z start: 1994/1995
  • Overlap years: 1994/1995-1998/1999
  • Core Gen Z: 1999-2010s

Generation Z Population Size

How many people make up Generation Z? As of 2020, Pew Research estimated the Gen Z population in the United States at 72.1 million, representing just under 22% of the total population.

Globally, Gen Z is on track to be the largest generation in history. By some projections, Gen Z worldwide could number over 2 billion people.

Here’s a chart of the estimated size of Generation Z globally and in the United States:

Country Gen Z Population % of Total Population
United States 72.1 million 21.6%
Global 2.47 billion 32%

As a share of total population, Gen Z represents between 20-35% in most countries. India has the largest Z population at 375 million, followed by China at 369 million.

Unique Traits of Generation Z

What defines Gen Z? As the first digitally native cohort, Gen Z stands apart from Millennials and older generations in many ways. Here are some key characteristics that set Generation Z apart:

  • Tech-savvy – Gen Z relies heavily on mobile technology and social media to shop, learn, communicate and entertain themselves.
  • Entrepreneurial – Gen Z enters the workforce seeking opportunities to develop skills, take risks and build their personal brands.
  • Pragmatic – Having grown up during recession, Gen Z tends to be financially prudent and career-focused.
  • Diverse – Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history.
  • Progressive – Gen Z cares deeply about social justice, equity and environmental issues.
  • Anxious – Higher rates of depression, anxiety and mental health challenges exist among Gen Z.

While that is not an exhaustive list, those characteristics broadly capture Gen Z’s values and life experiences. Technology, diversity, entrepreneurship and pragmatic idealism are touchstones for this emerging generation.

Comparison to Other Generations

How does Gen Z compare to Millennials and Generation X? Here is a brief generational contrast:

Generation Birth Years Traits & Values
Generation Z 1995/7-2010s Diverse, progressive, entrepreneurial, pragmatic
Millennials 1981-1994/6 Idealistic, team-oriented, tech savvy, civically engaged
Generation X 1965-1980 Independent, skeptical, work-life balance focused

While Gen Z and Millennials both grew up with technology, Gen Z is even more tech integrated. Gen Z is also more pragmatic compared to the idealism of Millennials. Both generations value diversity and progressivism.

Meanwhile, Gen X came of age well before the digital era, lending to more independence and skepticism of institutional authority.

Generation Alpha Following Gen Z

With Generation Z coming of age in the 2010s and 2020s, the next generational cohort is Generation Alpha. The start birth years for Gen Alpha are around 2010-2012, at the tail end of the Gen Z period.

Gen Alpha will grow up entirely immersed in technology and the on-demand digital world. They will likely be an even more fluid, adaptable generation comfortable with emerging technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence and automation.

Marketers, employers and policymakers will need to continue studying generations to keep pace with cultural and economic shifts.


In summary, while there is some variance in definitions, the Generation Z birth years predominantly span the late 1990s to early 2010s. Core members of this generation were born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s.

Some overlap exists between Gen Z and Millennials, highlighting the fluidity between generational cohorts. But Gen Z distinguished itself through growing up in a hyperconnected world changed by smartphones, social media, recession, and technological advancement.

Generation Z is poised to transform the cultural and economic landscape. Understanding what shaped them and what motivates them will be key for educators, employers, marketers and policymakers in the years ahead.

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