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Welcome - my name is Kevin Klinkenberg, and this site "The Messy City" is my blog and company website. I started blogging on urban planning and design issues in 2007, and began working in the field in 1993. Please feel free to connect with me on any of the social media sites listed here. Thanks for reading.

The Torch is being passed. Gen X, are you ready?

The Torch is being passed. Gen X, are you ready?


Yesterday I was having one of those conversations that made me stop and relate it to bigger changes in society. The topic was changes at work, and a boss retiring. It seems that that bit of news is becoming more frequent in my circles. And, it makes me think: the long-discussed transition of the Baby Boomers into retirement is happening daily, and the torch is quickly being passed to Gen X’ers. As a Gen X’er, this makes me happy, but it also makes me wonder what effect this will have on various professions, culture, society, etc.

Of course, those are impossible to answer, but fun fodder for discussion.

It also made me think about numbers and generations a bit. A few months ago I wrote about this here. One of the basic points I was trying to make was that the media narrative common to discussing the generational differences in size is vastly over-blown. If you study the actual numbers of births, the differences over any particular period are much smaller than what is represented. Then, when you layer in the number of immigrants to the U.S (which tend to be young), the lines become even blurrier.

So, I just got to thinking: if the media narrative is correct, won’t there be very large shoes to fill as all the Boomers (now anywhere from 50-67 years old) retire or move on to other things? Shouldn’t the numbers show a large gap, since Gen X is supposedly so much smaller than the Baby Boom?

Well, not exactly.

Here are the actual numbers of Americans, broken up by age group, in 2011:

60's: 29,590,000

50's: 41,519,000

40's: 42,576,000

30's: 39,457,000

20's: 42,907,000

This not only busts the myth of Gen X as insignificant in terms of population, but shows that the age group with the second-largest population is in their 40's, and only 8/10 of a percent smaller than the “huge” group of 20-somethings the media fawns over. Kind of goes against the "baby bust" meme about Gen X, doesn't it? I mean, I know quite a few Boomers aren't with us anymore, but that’s still over 70 million people in their 50’s and 60’s.

I was actually surprised by this information. I thought the numbers would be closer than the press lets on, but still thought there'd be a more pronounced dip in the population of 40-somethings.

Guess those jobs will all get filled, and life will go on after all.

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Friday photo 6/7/13: Where am I?

Friday photo 6/7/13: Where am I?

The Great American Grid Debate

The Great American Grid Debate