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Baby boomers (also known as boomers) are the demographic cohort following the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X. The Baby Boom generation is most often defined as those individuals born between 1946 and 1964.[1]

In Western Europe and North America, boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up during a period of increasing affluence[2] due in part to widespread post-war government subsidies in housing and education. As a group, baby boomers were wealthier, more active and more physically fit than any preceding generation and were the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.[3] They were also the generation that reached peak levels of income in the workplace and could, therefore, enjoy the benefits of abundant food, clothing, retirement programs, and even "midlife-crisis" products.[clarification needed] However, this generation also has been criticized often for its increases in consumerism which others saw as excessive.[4]

The boomers have tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from preceding and subsequent generations. In the 1960s and 1970s, as a relatively large number of young people entered their late teens—the oldest turned 18 in 1964—they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort and the changes brought about by their size in numbers.[5] This rhetoric had an important impact in the self-perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon. The baby boom has been described variously as a "shockwave"[2] and as "the pig in the python".[3]

Definition

 
United States birth rate (births per 1,000 population). The segment for the years 1946 to 1964 is highlighted in red, with birth rates peaking in 1949 and dropping steadily around 1958 reaching pre-war Depression-era levels in 1963.[6] The drop in 1970 was due to excluding births to nonresidents of the United States.[citation needed]

The term baby boom refers to a noticeable increase in the birth rate. The post-war population increase was described as a "boom" by various newspaper reporters, including Sylvia F. Porter in a column in the May 4, 1951, edition of the New York Post, based on the increase of 2,357,000 in the population of the U.S. in 1950.[7] The first recorded use of "baby boomer" is in a January 1963 Daily Press article describing a massive surge of college enrollments approaching as the oldest boomers were coming of age.[8][9] The Oxford English Dictionary dates the modern meaning of the term to a January 23, 1970 article in The Washington Post.[10]

Pew Research Center defines baby boomers as being born between 1946 and 1964.[11] The United States Census Bureau defines baby boomers as "individuals born in the United States between mid-1946 and mid-1964."[12][13]

The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines baby boomers as those born between 1946 and 1964.[14] Australia's Social Research Center defines baby boomers as born between 1946 and 1964.[15]

In the U.S., the generation can be segmented into two broadly defined cohorts: The Leading-Edge Baby Boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1955, those who came of age during the Vietnam War era. This group represents slightly more than half of the generation, or roughly 38,002,000 people of all races. The other half of the generation was born between 1956 and 1964. Called Late Boomers, or Trailing-Edge Boomers, this second cohort includes about 37,818,000 individuals, according to Live Births by Age and Mother and Race, 1933–98, published by the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics.[16]

The American term "Generation Jones" is sometimes used to describe those born roughly between 1954 and 1965. The term is typically used to refer to the later years of the baby boomer cohort and the early years of Generation X.[17][18][19]

Various authors have delimited the baby boom period differently. Landon Jones, in his book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation (1980), defined the span of the baby-boom generation as extending from 1946 through 1964,[20] when annual births increased over 4,000,000.[clarification needed] Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, well known for their generational theory, define the social generation of Boomers as that cohort born from 1943 to 1960, who were too young to have any personal memory of World War II, but old enough to remember the postwar American High.[21]

An ongoing battle for "generational ownership" has motivated a handful of marketing mavens and cultural commentators to coin or promote their own terms for sub‑segments of the baby-boomer generation. These monikers include but are not limited to "golden boomers", "generation Jones", "alpha boomers", "hippies", "yippies", "yuppies", "zoomers" and "cuspers".

In Ontario, Canada, David Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo: Profiting from the Demographic Shift in the 21st century (1997), defined a Canadian boomer as someone born from 1947 to 1966, the years in which more than 400,000 babies were born. However, he acknowledges that that is a demographic definition, and that culturally, it may not be as clear-cut.[22]

Doug Owram argues that the Canadian boom took place from 1946 to 1962, but that culturally boomers everywhere were born between the late war years and about 1955 or 1956. He notes that those born in the years before the actual boom were often the most influential people among boomers: for example, musicians such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones, as well as writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, who were either slightly or vastly older than the boomer generation. Those born in the 1960s might feel disconnected from the cultural identifiers of the earlier boomers.[23]

Bernard Salt places the Australian baby boom between 1946 and 1961.[24][25]

Characteristics

Size and economic impact

76 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964, representing a cohort that is significant in size alone. In 2004, the British baby boomers held 80% of the UK's wealth and bought 80% of all high-end cars, 80% of cruises and 50% of skincare products.[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."[27] This is supported by the articles of the late 1940s identifying the increasing number of babies as an economic boom, such as a 1948 Newsweek article whose title proclaimed "Babies Mean Business",[28] or a 1948 Time magazine article called "Baby Boom."[29]

The age wave theory suggests an economic slowdown when the boomers started retiring during 2007–2009.[30] Projections for the aging U.S. workforce suggest that by 2020, 25% of employees will be at least 55 years old.[31]

The baby boomers came into being the largest voting demographic in the early 1980s, a period which ushered in a long running trend of rapidly increasing income inequality. From 1979-2007, those receiving the highest 1 percentile of incomes saw their already large incomes increase by 278% while those in the middle at the 40th-60th percentiles saw a 35% increase. Since 1980, after the vast majority of Baby Boomer college goers graduated, the cost of college has been increased by over 600% (inflation adjusted).[32]

A survey found that nearly a third of baby boomer multimillionaires polled in the United States would prefer to pass on their inheritance to charities rather than pass it down to their children. Of these boomers, 57% believed it was important for each generation to earn their own money; 54% believed it was more important to invest in their children while they were growing up.[33]

Cultural identity

Boomers grew up at a time of dramatic social change. In the United States, that change marked the generation with a strong cultural cleavage, between the proponents of change and the more conservative individuals. Some analysts believe this cleavage played out politically since the time of the Vietnam War to the mid‑2000s, to some extent defining the political landscape and division in the country.[34][35] Starting in the 1980s, the boomers became more conservative, many of them regretting the cultural changes they brought in their youth.[36]

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, 33% had never strayed from church, and 25% 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."[37]

The early and mid-boomers were coming of age at the same time across the world, so that they experienced events like Beatlemania and 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.[citation needed] Some American boomers in Canada had found a new home after escaping the draft. Canadian Boomers were organizing support for Pierre Trudeau. It is precisely because of these experiences that many believe those born in the second half of the birth boom belong to another generation, as events that defined their coming of age have little in common with leading or core boomers.[original research?] Politically, early Boomers in the United States tend to be Democrats, while later boomers tend to be Republicans.[38]

The baby 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, the Motown Sound, and other new musical directions and artists.

In the west, baby boomers comprised the first generation to grow up with the television; some popular Boomer-era shows included Howdy Doody, The Mickey Mouse Club, Captain Video, The Soupy Sales Show, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, The Twilight Zone, Batman, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Star Trek, The Ed Sullivan Show, All in the Family and Happy Days.

In the 1985 study of U.S. 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?"[39] For the baby boomers the results were:

Some debate exists regarding the generational identity of those born from 1961 to 1964, as some demographers and researchers consider these individuals to be part of the younger demographic cohort, Generation X.[40][41][42][43]

Healthcare

The density of Baby Boomers can put a strain on Medicare. According to the American Medical Student Association, the population of individuals over the age of 65 will increase by 73 percent between 2010 and 2030, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen.[44]

Aging and end-of-life issues

As of 1998, it was reported that, as a generation, boomers had tended to avoid discussions and long-term planning for their demise.[45] However, since 1998 or earlier, there has been a growing dialogue on how to manage aging and end-of-life issues as the generation ages.[46] 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. According to the 2011 Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com surveys:

  • 60% lost value in investments because of the economic crisis
  • 42% are delaying retirement
  • 25% claim they will never retire (currently still working)[47][48]

In 2009, the earliest baby boomers (based on Strauss and Howe's range of 1943-1960) reached age 66, a common retirement age in the United States.

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 1966 "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 according to Raines.[49]

Boomers are often associated with the counterculture of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and the "second-wave" feminist cause of the 1970s. Conversely, many trended in moderate to conservative directions opposite to the counterculture, especially those making professional careers in the military (officer and enlisted), law enforcement, business, blue collar trades, and Republican Party politics. People often take it for granted that each succeeding generation will be "better off" than the one before it. When Generation X came along just after the boomers, they would be the first generation to enjoy a lesser quality of life than the generation preceding it.[50][51][52][53]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Sheehan, Paul (September 26, 2011). "Greed of boomers led us to a total bust". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on May 21, 2019. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Owram, Doug (1997), Born at the Right Time, Toronto: Univ Of Toronto Press, p. x, ISBN 0-8020-8086-3
  3. ^ a b Jones, Landon (1980), Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan
  4. ^ Pinker, Steven (2011). The Better Angels Of Our Nature. P.524: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-141-03464-5.
  5. ^ Owram, Doug (1997), Born at the Right Time, Toronto: Univ Of Toronto Press, p. xi, ISBN 0-8020-8086-3
  6. ^ CDC Bottom of this page https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/vsus.htm "Vital Statistics of the United States, 2003, Volume I, Natality", Table 1-1 "Live births, birth rates, and fertility rates, by race: United States, 1909–2003."
  7. ^ Reader's Digest August 1951 pg. 5
  8. ^ "How Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials Got Their Names". May 1, 2018.
  9. ^ Nason, Leslie J. (January 28, 1963). "Baby Boomers, Grown Up, Storm Ivy-Covered Walls". Daily Press. Newport, Virginia. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  10. ^ "baby boomer". Oxford English Dictionary. 1974.
  11. ^ "Defining generations: Where Millennials end and post-Millennials begin". Pew Research Center. March 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  12. ^ Colby, Sandra L.; Ortman, Jennifer M. (May 2014). "The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  13. ^ Bump, Philip (March 25, 2014). "Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  14. ^ "POPULATION BY AGE AND SEX, AUSTRALIA, STATES AND TERRITORIES". Australian Bureau of Statistics. December 20, 2018. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  15. ^ Pennay, Darren; Bongiorno, Frank (January 25, 2019). "Barbeques and black armbands: Australians' attitudes to Australia Day" (PDF). Social Research Center. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  16. ^ Green, Brent (2006). Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions. New York: Paramount Market Publishing. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0976697351.
  17. ^ Williams, Jeffrey J. (March 31, 2014). "Not My Generation". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  18. ^ FNP Interactive - http://www.fnpInteractive.com (December 19, 2008). "The Frederick News-Post Online – Frederick County Maryland Daily Newspaper". Fredericknewspost.com. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  19. ^ Noveck, Jocelyn (2009-01-11), "In Obama, many see an end to the baby boomer era".[1].
  20. ^ Jones, Landon Y. (November 6, 2015). "How 'baby boomers' took over the world" (PDF). The Washington Post. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  21. ^ Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (1991). Generations: The History of Americas Future, 1584 to 2069. New York: William Morrow. pp. 299–316. ISBN 0-688-11912-3.
  22. ^ Canada (June 24, 2006). "By definition: Boom, bust, X and why". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on May 20, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  23. ^ Owram, Doug (1997), Born at the Right Time, Toronto: University Of Toronto Press, p. xiv, ISBN 0-8020-8086-3
  24. ^ Salt, Bernard (2004), The Big Shift, South Yarra, Vic.: Hardie Grant Books, ISBN 978-1-74066-188-1
  25. ^ Salt, Bernard (November 2003). "The Big Shift" (PDF). The Australian Journal of Emergency Management. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2009. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  26. ^ Walker, Duncan (Sept 16, 2004) "Live Fast, Die Old", BBC News site. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  27. ^ Gillon, Steve (2004) Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever, and How It Changed America, Free Press, "Introduction", ISBN 0-7432-2947-9
  28. ^ "Population: Babies Mean Business", Newsweek, August 9, 1948. Retrieved 2007-01-26. Archived January 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Baby Boom", Time, February 9, 1948. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  30. ^ Economy faces bigger bust without Boomers, Reuters, Jan 31, 2008
  31. ^ Chosewood, L. Casey (July 19, 2012). "Safer and Healthier at Any Age: Strategies for an Aging Workforce". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  32. ^ Planes, Alex (June 29, 2013). "How the Baby Boomers Destroyed America's Future". The Motley Fool. The Motley Fool. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  33. ^ News, ABC. "50% of Boomers Leave Estates to Kids". ABC News.
  34. ^ Sullivan, Andrew (November 6, 2007). "Goodbye to all of that". Theatlantic.com. Archived from the original on January 3, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  35. ^ Broder, John M. (January 21, 2007). "Shushing the Baby Boomers". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  36. ^ Bowman, Karlyn (September 12, 2011). "As the boomers turn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  37. ^ Ostling, Richard N., "The Church Search", April 5, 1993 Time article retrieved 2007-01-27
  38. ^ "The Whys and Hows of Generations Research". Pew Center. September 3, 2015
  39. ^ Schuman, H. and Scott, J. (1989), Generations and collective memories, American Sociological Review, vol. 54 (3), 1989, pp. 359–81.
  40. ^ Howe, Neil (August 27, 2014). "Generation X: Once Xtreme, Now Exhausted". Forbes. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  41. ^ Miller, Jon (Fall 2011). "The Generation X Report: Active, Balanced, and Happy" (PDF). Longitudinal Study of American Youth – University Of Michigan. p. 1. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  42. ^ "National Geographic Channel's Six-Part Limited Series "Generation X," Narrated by Christian Slater, Premieres Sunday, Feb. 14, at 10/9c". Multichannel News. January 29, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  43. ^ "Generation X Employees Struggle the Most Financially, Most Likely to Dip into Retirement Savings, According to PwC Study". PrincewaterhouseCoopers. June 18, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  44. ^ "How baby boomers will affect the health care industry in the U.S. | Carrington.edu". carrington.edu. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  45. ^ Baby boomers lag in preparing funerals, estates, etc. The Business Journal of Milwaukee – December 18, 1998 by Robert Mullins. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
  46. ^ Article in The New York Times, March 30, 1998 Archived July 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ "Retirement? For More Baby Boomers, The Answer Is No". ThirdAge Staff. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  48. ^ "Redefining Retirement: A Much Longer Lifespan means more to Consider". Living Better at 50. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  49. ^ Raines, Claire (1997). Beyond Generation X. Crisp Publications. ISBN 978-1560524496.
  50. ^ Isabel Sawhill, Ph.D; John E. Morton (2007). "Economic Mobility: Is the American Dream Alive and Well?" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 29, 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  51. ^ Steuerle, Eugene; Signe-Mary McKernan; Caroline Ratcliffe; Sisi Zhang (2013). "Lost Generations? Wealth Building Among Young Americans" (PDF). Urban Institute. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  52. ^ "Financial Security and Mobility". www.economicmobility.org.
  53. ^ Ellis, David (May 25, 2007). "Making less than dad did". CNN. Retrieved May 3, 2010.

Further reading

External links