The Pew Research Center is giving the term "millennial" a new generational boundary and it's set much sooner than some other researchers had suggested.
Pew announced Thursday that going forward, it would be defining millennials as those born between the years 1981 and 1996 ― in other words, those ages 22 to 37 this year.
Michael Dimock, president of the Pew Research Center, wrote that after more than a decade of reporting on this particular cohort, it became clear that "it's time to determine a cutoff point between millennials and the next generation."
Setting the parameters wasn't as easy as it was with baby boomers, who began with a surge in births after World War II and ended with a major drop in birth rates after 1964, Dimock explained. But they settled on 1996 as the last year "for a number of reasons, including key political, economic and social factors that define the millennial generation's formative years."
Pew lists being old enough to have comprehended the significance of the Sept. 11 attacks, being of age during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and entering the workforce during the 2007 global recession as markers of a millennial.
The center's definition narrows the millennial span from that earlier set by Neil Howe and William Strauss, the researchers credited with coining the term "millennial." Several years ago, they had placed the cutoff year at 2004.
Researchers haven't agreed on a name for the post-millennial generation yet, although they're often called Generation Z. Dimock noted that, unlike the millennials, these young people have grown up with social media and mobile technology as their normal.
"Recent research has shown dramatic shifts in youth behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles ― both positive and concerning ― for those who came of age in this era," Dimock wrote. "What we don't know is whether these are lasting generational imprints or characteristics of adolescence that will become more muted over the course of their adulthood."