driver-less · Societal Changes

Post Millenials, or Will My Daughter Ever Drive?

I was recently reading a dead-tree copy of the local Delaware paper, and there was an article about MTV coming up with a name for Post-Millennials.  Unfortunately I’m unable to find it online; another paper has a similar article here.

What is the Millennial Generation?  According to the source of all knowledge, it is the generation from the early 1980s to the early 2000’s.  The term “Millennial” is used since they were the first generation to graduate school in the new millennium.  “School” could be high school or college depending on who you listen to.

Therefore, the next generation would fall from ~2000 to around 2020.  Previous generations “X” and “Y” suggest a generation “Z.” Since “Y” now has a more accepted name, another term for “Z” will probably be accepted more readily.  One that has been thrown around is “Homelanders” in a reference less travel occurring following the 9/11 attacks.  MTV coined a new phrase, “Founders” suggesting that they will be “founders” of a new world by fixing the problems of previous generations.

In using these names, I think people are forgetting that a generation’s seminal event usually occurs over a decade AFTER the last of the generation are born.  Let’s examine the following:

  •  the “Lost Generation” ending in 1900 – so named from WWI and Influenza occurring from 1914-1920.
  • Greatest Generation ending in 1924 – so named from the great depression and World War II, which ended in 1945.
  • The silent Generation, with no single major event, ended in 1945.
  • The Boomers, ending in 1964, are by their actions from 1968 through 1975; the end of Vietnam, Nixon, the Moon Landings, etc.  The latter two were more shared experiences than activities, and all of these were 23-35 years after the first Boomers were born.

It stands to reason, then, that the seminal event of generation “Z” will be something that happens from 2020 – 2040.  It is impossible to know now exactly what that might be.  It stands to reason that the automobile changed the greatest generation.  It permitted them to travel to California before liberating France.  It’s entirely possible that the autonomous car might similarly define the next generation – the driverless generation.

The driverless generation may have many drivers in it, but it will be the first generation where the majority may not get a traditional drivers license.  While Millennials’ licensing has decreased from 80%+ to <70% as compared to Gen X-ers in this article, the majority of Millennials still do drive.  The driverless generation will be the cohort whose first-born turned 17 when the first fully autonomous cars are commercially available.  If that autonomy becomes commercially viable in 2020, and broadly available in 2030, it stands to reason that most of those coming of driving age between 2020 and 2040 (ie those born between 2003 and 2023) may never get a “normal” license.

This brings up a whole host of other topics.  I have pretty obviously danced around the fact that licenses may be required in autonomous vehicles. I have accepted/proffered  2020 and 2030 as dates for introduction and broad acceptance.  I have not discussed other methods of Mobility as a service – MAAS – nor have I defined it.  There are probably some interesting topics to discuss around the current decline in driving habits. A number of reasons for this are listed in the above-linked article, for example.

What do you think the next generation (2005-2020, say) will be called/known for?  Will vehicular autonomy affect the generational name?


One thought on “Post Millenials, or Will My Daughter Ever Drive?

  1. It is likely that the autonomous car will play a part in naming the post-millennial generation. I wonder whether the name will be directly driving related or be somehow shaped by the societal changes that take place. Will car ownership become less important, therefore removing one of the hurdles for a young person setting out on his own? Maybe the next generation will be named after the fact that boomerang children will become a thing of the past.


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