The Baby Boom Is Now the Elder Boom
The Baby Boom is now emerging as the Elder Boom. How did the Baby Boom become the transformational generation, and what does that mean now as they enter their older years?
The sheer number of the boomers has driven change throughout their entire lifetime.
The Baby Boom
Post-World War II America was ripe for this explosion of births. The economy was sound, men and women coming back from the war were anxious to start families, settle down, and enjoy the economic opportunities of the times. The World War II generation was the most marriage and family-oriented in US history: 96.4% of women and 94.1% of men in this cohort got married at a younger age than their parents before them. They had more children, sooner after marriage, and spaced closer together. On average 4.24 million babies were born per year between 1946 and 1964. In 1964, the 76.4 million babies born during the baby boom generation constituted a whopping 40% of the US population (192 million).
Boomers Impact the Economy
The boomers benefitted from a strong economy at that time, but they were also a major contributor to continued economic growth. The enormous generation of babies became an enormous generation of children, teenagers, young adults and now seniors. As they aged, they changed the industries around them. As babies and children, they drove the sale of toys, candy, and washing machines. The gigantic group of school children drove the construction of new schools, and suburbs. As teenagers, they dominated the culture of the 50s and 60s, buying clothing, and records. They were the disruptors of the music industry initiating the birth of Rock and Roll. And they never looked back.
Significance of the Boomers
“The generation born in the twenty years following World War II has been a defining force in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s, they were on the forefront of social change in those decades, including the later stages of the Civil Rights Movement, the protest against the Vietnam War, and the second wave of the feminist movement. It might even be said that those movements gained momentum because of the sheer size of the baby boomer generation, whose shared concerns and life experiences as an age cohort exerted influence on an American culture proportional to their numbers.”
Notable boomers, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates introduced the personal computer to everyone. The development of the world wide web was brought to fruition by Sir Tim Berners-Less. The Kurzweil 250 musical synthesizer was created by Ray Kurzweil, with advisement from Stevie Wonder. The Kurzweil 250 was a digital musical instrument that was able to duplicate the sound of a grand piano. He then went on to develop a succession of other digital keyboards that have been used by artists such as Paul McCartney and Earth, Wind and Fire.
The advent of space exploration was challenged by President John F. Kennedy to reach the moon first. The Apollo 11 spacecraft, during which commander Neil Armstrong, pilot Michael Collins, and lunar module pilot Edwin (Buzz) Armstrong became the first people to land on the surface of the moon. The was an engineering phenomenon. Our cell phones of today are more powerful than the computers that were flying the Apollo spacecrafts.
The Longevity of the Boomer Generation
The advancement in medical technology has revealed discoveries that have allowed the boomers of today to live healthier lives. As a result, there are 74 million boomers moving through the benchmark retirement age of 65 to the tune of 10,000 per day. By 2030 1 in 5 people will be over the age of 65. The established age for retirement of 65 has proven to be underestimate of the capabilities of boomers to continue working. There are instances where boomers are aged out of their careers. For those wishing to return to the workplace, ageism is still a very strong bias. And then there are those who enjoy retirement and depend on their Social Security checks to help pay their living expenses. This is when the enormous group of boomers are causing many headaches. As they age, the ratio of retired Americans compared to working Americans will increase significantly, placing a considerable strain on Social Security, hospitals, healthcare workers, and government agencies designed to help the older population. The silver tsunami has hit!
This is a very real problem, but the very people who might be able to help solve this conundrum, have not been invited to the table for discussions. An aging brain is a powerful tool. Crystallized intelligence increases with aging. The expertise and experiences of older people can be valuable assets. Older people are the ones affected by decisions made to control costs of the senior population. Disregarding their opinions because they are in their seventies is foolish and short-sighted. Longevity is a reality, and a chronological age is not the answer for drastic solutions. This enormous generation is powerful, and their expertise is priceless. Listen to them.
Kiger,P. (December 29, 2010). Baby boomer inventions that changed the world. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/idUS182429596720101222