Slackers.

Shoe gazers.

Secluded.

Sounds like Generation X, right?

Wrong.

Most Gen Xers, the generation sandwiched between baby boomers and Internet-era adults, live active, balanced and happy lives, according to a long-term research from the University of Michigan released Tuesday.

They are not bowling alone, said political scientist Jon Miller, author of The Generation X Report., a reference to sociologist Robert Putnam's influential book, 'Bowling Alone.'

They are active in their communities, mainly satisfied with their jobs, and able to balance work, family, and leisure, he added.

Since 1986, the Longitudinal Study of American Youth has tracked the lives of 4,000 Gen Xers born between 1961 and 1981. Douglas Coupland, Canadian author born in 1961, popularized the term in his 1991 novel 'Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.'

The 84 million Americans in this generation between the ages of 30 and 50 are the parents of today's school-aged children, Miller said. And over the next two or three decades, members of Generation X will lead the nation in the White House and Congress. So it's important to understand their values, history, current challenges and future goals.

America hasn't become the socially isolated place that Putman argued in his 2000 tome, according to Miller.

Although they may be less likely to join community-based luncheon clubs, they have extensive social, occupational and community networks. They are active participants in parent-teacher organizations, local youth sports clubs, book clubs and other community organizations.

Researchers found that:

  • Gen Xers work and commute more hours that the typical American adult
  • Two thirds are married and 71 percent have children at home
  • 30 percent of Gen Xers are active members of professional, business or union organizations, and one in three is an active member of a church or religious organization
  • 90 percent of Gen Xers participated in at least one outdoor activity, such as hiking, swimming, boating or fishing per month

Miller reports Gen Xers adults are happy with their lives and average  7.5 on a 10-point scale in which 10 equals very happy.

That is not to say that some members of this generation are not struggling, Miller said. And in future issues of the Generation X Report we will address some of the challenges many members of this group are facing.

The next Generation X Report will be issued in January and will focus on how Gen Xers keep abreast on influenza. Other quarterly reports are planned that will cover food and cooking, climate, space exploration, and citizenship and voting.