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Demographer William Strauss observed that Coupland applied the term to older members of the cohort born between 19, who were sometimes told by demographers that they were baby boomers, but who did not feel like boomers.

Strauss also noted that around the time Coupland's 1991 novel was published the symbol "X" was prominent in popular culture, as the film Malcolm X was released in 1992, and that the name "Generation X" ended up sticking.

Demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe rejected the frequently used 1964 end date of the baby boomer cohort (which results in a 1965 start year for Generation X), saying that a majority of those born between 19 do not self-identify as boomers, and that they are culturally distinct from boomers in terms of shared historical experiences.

Howe says that while many demographers use 1965 as a start date for Generation X, this is a statement about fertility in the population (birth rates which began declining in 1957, declined more sharply following 1964) and fails to take into consideration the shared history and cultural identity of the individuals.

The term acquired its modern definition after the release of Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, a 1991 novel written by Canadian author Douglas Coupland.

Some of the cultural influences on Gen X youth were the musical genres of heavy metal music, grunge and hip hop music, and indie films.

In midlife, research describes them as active, happy, and achieving a work–life balance.

Demographers and researchers typically use birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s.

Members of Generation X were children during a time of shifting societal values and as children were sometimes called the "latchkey generation", due to reduced adult supervision as children compared to previous generations, a result of increasing divorce rates and increased maternal participation in the workforce, prior to widespread availability of childcare options outside the home.

In a 2012 article for the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, George Masnick wrote that the "Census counted 82.1 million" Gen Xers in the U. The Harvard Center uses 1965 to 1984 to define Gen X so that Boomers, Xers, and Millennials "cover equal 20-year age spans".

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