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FAQ #3 – Generational generalizations: Does location matter?


Today I’ll address another question I’m most frequently asked about the generations…

To what extent do generational generalizations apply in different regions of the U.S. and in other countries?

People are shaped by so many things – culture, family values, age, religious affiliation, access to media, education, socioeconomic status – and generational differences are only one of those lenses by which we can view and understand them. In general, though, the closer people are to farming, the more conservative they are, and the more they are a blend of their own and the previous generation. Because of this, the coasts are more likely to match the generational generalizations, whereas people in the South and Midwest tend to have more characteristics of the preceding generation.

While the generational generalizations I present in Sticking Points are primarily drawn from research in the U.S. and Canada, there are some common factors that made a similar impact on many other parts of the world: the Industrial Revolution, World War II, and access to Western media.

  • Industrial Revolution – The move from rural to urban areas created greater discontinuity with the past and greater openness to new ideas. Many of the generational differences are more pronounced in cities.
  • World War II – Countries that participated in the war most likely had their own “baby booms”, though they may have had them later. Many European countries had booms six or seven years after the U.S. and Canada due to the time it took them to rebuild after the war.
  • Access to Western media – The more experiences people share, especially when young, the more common characteristics they have, even if they live in different parts of the world. Access to global media has made the world smaller.
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