The Fourth Turning is Here by Neil Howe

The Big Idea: Historical is shaped by cycles. Each cycle (saeculum) lasts one human lifetime, about 80-90 years. Patterns repeat because generations are shaped by history as children and young adults and, in turn, they shape history as middle aged adults and elders. America is in the middle of the winter season (Fourth Turning) of the cycle and can expect another decade of turmoil before the spring season returns in the early 2030’s.

A generation is shaped by the season in which they come of age. Below are the four generations of a saeculum and their age during each season (or turning) of the saeculum.

SeasonTurningProphet GenerationArtist GenerationHero GenerationNomad Generation
SpringHighChildrenYoung AdultMiddle AgedElder
SummerAwakeningYoung AdultMiddle AgedElderChildren
FallUnravelingMiddle AgedElderChildrenYoung Adult
WinterCrisisElderChildrenYoung AdultMiddle Aged

The United States has experienced four cycles, or saecula, since the early 1700’s. Below are those four saecula and the four generational archetypes that passed through each of the four seasons (see table above) of each saeculum.

Revolutionary SaeculumAwakening Generation: born 1701 to 1723.Liberty Generation: born 1724 to 1741.Republican Generation: born 1742 to 1766.Compromise Generation: born 1767 to 1791.
Civil War SaeculumTranscendental Generation: born 1792 to 1821.Gilded Generation: born 1822 to 1842.Progressive Generation: born 1843 to 1859.*Progressive Generation: born 1843 to 1859.
Great Power SaeculumMissionary Generation: born 1860 to 1882Lost Generation: born 1883 to 1900G.I. Generation: born 1901 to 1924.Silent Generation: born 1925 to 1942.
Millennial SaeculumBaby Boom Generation: born 1943 to 1960.Generation X: born 1961 to 1981.Millennial Generation: born 1982 to 2004.Generation Z/Homeland: born 2005 to ?.

What can we expect during the current Crisis? Crises are periods marked by major secular upheaval, when society focuses on reorganizing the outer world of institutions and public behavior. The last three Crisis periods in the United States have brought us The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, and World War II. The current Crisis starts with the Great Financial Crisis in 2008 and should continue until 2032, give or take a few years.

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