Time to Play ‘Rate the Generations’

Generation Y ought to hire an ad agency. Harris Interactive polling, conducted for Charles Schwab and Age Wave, finds this age cohort has some major image problems. Boomers, meanwhile, came out surprisingly well in polling that asked people to rate the generations with respect to a number of positive and negative traits.

Analyzing data collected in March and April, the report showed Boomers (age 44-62) winning a plurality (at 35 percent) when respondents were asked to say which generation has had or will have the most positive overall effect on society. Gen X (age 32-43) was the runner-up, at 25 percent. Despite their “Greatest” moniker, the 84-plus cohort got just 11 percent of the vote here, leaving them behind the 63-83-year-old Silent Generation (16 percent) and the 13-31-year-old Generation Y (13 percent).

The Greatests did run a close second to the Silents (30 percent vs. 33 percent) when respondents were asked to say which generation they admire the most. The Silents also led the voting for the “most generous” generation, with 40 percent of the tally (ahead of the Boomers, at 33 percent). Since they don’t yet have much wealth with which to be generous, Gen Y has a good excuse for drawing just 4 percent of the tally here. But it’s harder to shrug off the fact that this cohort pulled an outright majority of the vote (55 percent) when respondents were asked to say which generation is the most greedy. Gen X was a distant runner-up here (22 percent). Gen Y was also seen as the most self-indulgent group, with 53 percent of respondents voicing that opinion (with Gen X as the runner-up, at 25 percent). In each case, a majority of Y-ers themselves agreed with the negative verdict.

Does Gen Y compensate for its numerous shortcomings by being especially innovative? Not according to the respondents in this survey. Gen X topped the voting in this category (41 percent), with Gen Y slightly trailing the Boomers (22 percent vs. 25 percent).