Baby Boomer

Baby Boomer

Baby boomer is a term used to describe a person who was born during the Post-World War II baby boom between 1946 and 1964. [ [ Statistics Canada - Canada's population by age and sex] ] [ [ US Census Bureau - Oldest Boomers Turn 60 (2006)] ] Following World War II, several English-speaking countries – the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – experienced an unusual spike in birth rates, a phenomenon commonly referred to as the baby boom. [Some sociologists such as Strauss and Howe see a marked increase in births during WWII, and set the boundaries at of the baby boom at 1943–1960.] The terms "baby boomer" and "baby boom", along with others expressions, are also used in countries with demographics that did not mirror the sustained growth in American families over the same interval. [Marchand, Philip, "Life Inside the Population Bulge: The scared, scrambling lives of the Boomies", "Saturday Night Magazine", October 1979 [ retrieved from It Seems Like Yesterday e-zine on January 25, 2007] ]


ize and economic impact

Seventy-six million American children were born between 1945 and 1964, representing a cohort that is significant on account of its size alone. In 2004, the UK baby boomers held 80% of the UK's wealth and bought 80% of all top of the range cars, 80% of cruises and 50% of skincare products. [Walker, Duncan (Sept 16, 2004) "Live Fast, Die Old", [ BBC News site] , retrieved 2007-01-26.]

In addition to the size of the group, Steve Gillon has suggested that one thing that sets the baby boomers apart from other generational groups is the fact that "almost from the time they were conceived, Boomers were dissected, analyzed, and pitched to by modern marketers, who reinforced a sense of generational distinctiveness."Gillon, Steve (2004) "Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever, and How It Changed America", Free Press, "Introduction", ISBN 0743229479] This is supported by the articles of the late 1940s identifying the increasing number of babies as an economic boom, such as in the Newsweek article of August 9 1948, "Population: Babies Mean Business", ["Population: Babies Mean Business", [ "Newsweek", August 9, 1948] retrieved 2007-01-26] or "Time" article of February 9 1948. ["Baby Boom", [,9171,856041,00.html "Time", February 9, 1948] , retrieved 2007-01-26] The effect of the baby boom continued to be analyzed and exploited throughout the 1950s and 60s. [Edsall, Richard [ Bouncing Birth Rate Will Mean Big Future Consumer Market] , "Canadian Business", February 1957]

Boomers have often found difficulty managing their time and money due to an issue that other generations have not had a problem with. Because the Baby Boomer generation has found that their parents are living longer, their children are seeking a better and longer college education, and they themselves are having children later in life, the boomers have become "sandwiched" between generations. The "sandwich generation", coined in the 1980s, refers to baby boomers who must care for both elderly parents and young children at the same time.

The age wave theory suggests an impending economic slowdown when the boomers start retiring during 2007-2009. [ [ Economy faces bigger bust without Boomers] , Reuters, Jan 31, 2008]

Cultural identity

The baby boomers were the first group to be raised with televisions in the home, and television has been identified as "the institution that solidified the sense of generational identity more than any other." Starting in the 1950s, people in diverse geographic locations could watch the same shows, listen to the same news, and laugh at the same jokes. Television shows such as "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver" showed idealized family settings. Later, the boomers watched scenes from the Vietnam War and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy.

The boomers found that their music, most notably rock and roll, was another expression of their generational identity. Transistor radios were personal devices that allowed teenagers to listen to The Beatles and The Motown Sound.

In 1993, "Time" magazine reported on the religious affiliations of baby boomers. Citing Wade Clark Roof, a sociologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the articles stated that about 42% of baby boomers were dropouts from formal religion, a third had never strayed from church, and one-fourth of boomers were returning to religious practice. The boomers returning to religion were "usually less tied to tradition and less dependable as church members than the loyalists. They are also more liberal, which deepens rifts over issues like abortion and homosexuality." [Ostling, Richard N., "The Church Search", 5 April 1993 [,9171,978164,00.html Time article retrieved 2007-01-27] ]

It is jokingly said that, whatever year they were born, boomers were coming of age at the same time across the world; so that Britain was undergoing Beatlemania (which in fact occurred before the peak of the British baby boom in 1966) while people in the United States were driving over to Woodstock, organizing against the Vietnam War, or fighting and dying in the same war; boomers in Italy were dressing in mod clothes and "buying the world a Coke"; boomers in India were seeking new philosophical discoveries; American boomers in Canada had just found a new home after escaping the draft south of the border; Canadian Boomers were organizing support for Pierre Trudeau;. It is precisely because of these experiences that many believe trailing boomers (those born in the 1960s) belong to another cohort, as events that defined their coming of age have nothing in common with leading or core boomers (which Daniel Yankelovich and other demographers made perfectly clear).

In the 1985 study of US generational cohorts by Schuman and Scott, a broad sample of adults was asked, "What world events over the past 50 years were especially important to them?" [Schuman, H. and Scott, J. (1989), Generations and collective memories, "American Psychological Review", vol. 54, 1989, pp. 359-81.] For the baby boomers the results were:
* Baby Boomer cohort #1 (born from 1946 to 1954)
**Memorable events: assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., political unrest, walk on the moon, Vietnam War, anti-war protests, social experimentation, sexual freedom, civil rights movement, environmental movement, women's movement, protests and riots, experimentation with various intoxicating recreational substances
**Key characteristics: experimental, individualism, free spirited, social cause oriented
* Baby Boomer cohort #2 (born from 1955 to 1964)
**Memorable events: Watergate, Nixon resigns, the Cold War, the oil embargo, raging inflation, gasoline shortages
**Key characteristics: less optimistic, distrust of government, general cynicism

Aging and end of life issues

As of 1998, it was reported that as a generation boomers had tended to avoid discussions and planning for their demise and avoided much long term planning. [ [ Baby boomers lag in preparing funerals, estates, et al The Business Journal of Milwaukee - December 18, 1998 by Robert Mullins] retrieved 2007-06-18] However, beginning at least as early as that year, there has been a growing dialogue on how to manage aging and end of life issues as the generation ages. [ [ Article in the "New York Times", March 30, 1998] ] In particular, a number of commentators have argued that Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care. [ [ Article from the "Associated Press", March 5, 2004] ] [ [ Article in the "San Diego Union-Tribune"] ] [ [ Article by Robert Samuelson] ]

Journalist Jeff Chang wrote in his book "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation", "Boomers seem to have had great difficulty imagining what could come after themselves." [ [ Excerpt from the book "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation"] ]

One book, written by Colorado doctor Terry Grossman, titled "The Baby Boomers' Guide to Living Forever", proposes how Baby Boomers might avoid death. On page 3 of the book, Grossman writes, unironically, "As an official member of the Baby Boomer Generation, I really and truly do not believe that it was intended for us to die. Death, if and when it occurs, clearly will represent a mistake of some kind." [ [ Link to search the text of Terry Grossman's book "The Baby Boomers' Guide to Living Forever"] ]

The humor publication "The Onion" published a satirical article celebrating the anticipated large-scale deaths of Baby Boomers in the upcoming years, quoting one fictional expert as saying the Boomers are "the most odious generation America has ever produced." [ [ Satirical article from "The Onion"] ]

James Love of claims that a Baby Boomer will die every 49.5 seconds in the USA during the year 2008. [ [ Boomer Death Counter] ]

Impact on history and culture

An indication of the importance put on the impact of the boomer was the selection by "Time" magazine of the Baby Boom Generation as its 1967 "Man of the Year". As Claire Raines points out in ‘Beyond Generation X’, “never before in history had youth been so idealized as they were at this moment.” When Generation X came along it had much to live up to and to some degree has always lived in the shadow of the Boomers, more often criticized (‘slackers’, ‘whiners’ and ‘the doom generation’) than not. [1997, Beyond generation X, Crisp Publications, USA.]

One of the contributions made by the Boomer generation appears to be the expansion of individual freedom. Boomers often are associated with the civil rights movement, the feminist cause in the 1970s, gay rights, handicapped rights, and the right to privacy.

Baby boomers presently make up the lion's share of the political, cultural, industrial, and academic leadership class in the United States. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, born within sixty days of each other in mid-1946, are the first and second Baby Boomer U.S. presidents, and their careers in office illustrate the wide, often diverging, spectrum of values and attitudes espoused by this largest American generational group to date. To date, baby boomers also have the highest median household incomes in the United States. Fact|date=February 2007

ee also

* Demographics of the United States
* Generation gap


External links

* [ AAFR American Association of Future Retirees (Boomer Advocacy Group)]
* Edward Cheung, [ "Baby Boomers, Generation X and Social Cycles"] . Long Wave Press, 2007.
* [ BBC report on pensioners]
* [ "The Baby Boom and the Future of the Economy"] article about Canadian economics
* [ Excerpts from Boomer Nation on Plymouth State University Website]
*dmoz|Society/People/Generations_and_Age_Groups/Baby_Boomers|Baby Boomers
* [ Baby Boomer Lifestyle Survey] Boomer Market Advisor, March 1, 2007

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