cover image The Generation Myth: Why When You’re Born Matters Less than You Think

The Generation Myth: Why When You’re Born Matters Less than You Think

Bobby Duffy. Basic, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5416-2031-5

Duffy (The Perils of Perception), a professor of public policy at King’s College, London, contends in this thought-provoking study that generational identities are more fluid than widely believed. Debunking the idea that Baby Boomers, Millennials, and other age groups are on the verge of a “generational war,” Duffy shows that age is just one of many social, economic, and cultural factors that help shape a person’s life and outlook. He contends that the Covid-19 pandemic revealed a surprising “level of solidarity” between generations, and cites evidence that “large proportions of all age groups, including the young, remain unconvinced” about the threat of climate change. Duffy also analyzes how economic recessions affect generational well-being, documents the myriad causes of declining birth and marriage rates among millennials and Gen Z, and contends that gaps between younger and older people’s “attitudes on race, gender, and sexuality” aren’t “as large or unusual as they are often portrayed.” Marshalling copious statistical evidence to back up his claims, Duffy makes a persuasive case that resisting “stereotypes and lazy thinking” about old vs. young can help foster the “intergenerational will” to tackle such existential threats as climate change and economic inequality. Readers will be inspired by this myth-busting survey. (Oct.)