The Core Characteristics Of Generation Z

Gen­er­a­tion Z has emerged as a pop­u­la­tion increas­ing­ly wor­thy of atten­tion, espe­cial­ly now as its old­er mem­bers are in their 20s and have become a polit­i­cal­ly engaged force in recent elec­tions. Born after 1996, Gen­er­a­tion Zers made up one-tenth of the 2020 elec­torate and have added 8.3 mil­lion new­ly eli­gi­ble vot­ers since Novem­ber 2022 — reach­ing an esti­mat­ed 41 mil­lion total eli­gi­ble vot­ers in 2024. While they share a num­ber of char­ac­ter­is­tics with mil­len­ni­als, their for­ma­tive years have been shaped by a dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent world, result­ing in key dif­fer­ences in atti­tudes, ten­den­cies and out­look. Sta­tis­tics com­piled by the Pew Research Cen­ter and the KIDS COUNT® Data Cen­ter paint a clear pic­ture. Here’s what we know.


One of the core char­ac­ter­is­tics of Gen­er­a­tion Z is racial diver­si­ty. As America’s demo­graph­ics con­tin­ue to shift, Gen Z will be the last gen­er­a­tion that is a major­i­ty white — just bare­ly, with 51%.

The younger Gen­er­a­tion Alpha, born 2013 to 2025, is 48% white and on track to be the most diverse gen­er­a­tion yet. On the oth­er hand, much larg­er shares of the old­er mil­len­ni­als, Gen Xers and baby boomers are white: 55%, 60% and 72%, respectively. 

Gen Z is more racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse than old­er gen­er­a­tions, with: 

  • 25% Lati­no or His­pan­ic;
  • 15% Black;
  • 6% Asian Amer­i­can or Pacif­ic Islander;
  • 5% two or more races; and
  • 2% Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native young people.

As Gen Zers grew up over the past two decades, chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies grew more com­mon, too, ris­ing from 19% of the country’s child pop­u­la­tion in the ear­ly 2000s to 25% in 2021.

For many Gen Zers, the back­drop of their ear­ly years includ­ed the country’s first Black pres­i­dent and the legal­iza­tion of gay mar­riage. They are more like­ly to have grown up amid diverse fam­i­ly struc­tures — whether in a sin­gle-par­ent house­hold, a mul­tira­cial house­hold, or a house­hold in which gen­der roles were blurred. As a result, they are less fazed than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions by dif­fer­ences in race, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion or religion.


Anoth­er char­ac­ter­is­tic of Gen­er­a­tion Z is their native use of tech­nol­o­gy. Where­as mil­len­ni­als were con­sid­ered ​“dig­i­tal pio­neers,” who bore wit­ness to the explo­sion of tech­nol­o­gy and social media, Gen Z was born into a world of peak tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion — where infor­ma­tion was imme­di­ate­ly acces­si­ble and social media increas­ing­ly ubiquitous.

These tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments have had both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive effects on Gen Z. On the plus side: an abun­dance of infor­ma­tion is at their fin­ger­tips, allow­ing Gen Zers to broad­en their knowl­edge, access resources and be proac­tive in their learn­ing. Social media can also offer social sup­port from peers or oth­ers, which may be espe­cial­ly ben­e­fi­cial for mar­gin­al­ized young peo­ple, such as sex­u­al and gen­der minori­ties. On the oth­er hand, too much screen time is linked to depres­sion and anx­i­ety, low self-esteem and poor body image, eat­ing dis­or­der behav­iors, inad­e­quate sleep and oth­er health prob­lems. Addi­tion­al­ly, tech­nol­o­gy is chang­ing the econ­o­my and the nature of work, increas­ing­ly requir­ing post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion to pre­pare young peo­ple for new jobs, leav­ing many low-income Gen Zers vul­ner­a­ble as they enter the workforce.


Comments are closed.