Baby Boomers (also known as Boomers) are the demographic cohort
following the Silent Generation. There are no precise dates for when
this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use
starting birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1940s and ending
birth years ranging from 1960 to 1964.
The term "baby boomer" is also used in a cultural context, so it is
difficult to achieve broad consensus of a precise date definition.
Different people, organizations, and scholars have varying opinions on
who is a baby boomer, both technically and culturally. Ascribing
universal attributes to such a generation is difficult, and some
believe it is inherently impossible, but many have attempted to
determine their cultural similarities and historical impact, and the
term has thus gained widespread popular usage.
Baby boomers are associated with a rejection or redefinition of
traditional values. Many commentators, however, have disputed the
extent of that rejection, noting the widespread continuity of values
with older and younger generations. In
Europe and North America,
boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a
time of widespread government subsidies in post-war housing and
education, and increasing affluence.
As a group, baby boomers were the wealthiest, most active, and most
physically fit generation up to the era in which they arrived, and
were amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to
improve with time. They were also the generation that received peak
levels of income; they could therefore reap the benefits of abundant
levels of food, apparel, retirement programs, and sometimes even
"midlife crisis" products. The increased consumerism for this
generation has been regularly criticized as excessive.
One feature of the boomers was that they have tended to think of
themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had
come before. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young
people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them,
created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the changes
they were bringing about. 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" and as "the pig in the python."
The term "
Generation Jones" is sometimes used to describe those born
roughly between 1954 and 1964. The term is typically used to refer to
the later years of the Baby boomer cohort and the early years of
2.1 Size and economic impact
2.2 Cultural identity
4 Aging and end-of-life issues
5 Impact on history and culture
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
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. The drop in 1970 was due to
excluding births to nonresidents of the United States.
The phrase 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
for the May 4, 1951, edition of the New York Post, based on the
increase in the population of the U.S. of 2,357,000 in 1950.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of
"baby boomer" is in 1970 in The Washington Post. Various authors
have delimited the baby boom period differently. Landon Jones, in his
book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom
defined the span of the baby-boom generation as extending from 1943
through 1960, when annual births increased over 4,000,000. 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
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 Center for Disease Control's National Center for
An ongoing battle for "generational ownership" has motivated a handful
of marketing mavens and cultural commentators to coin and/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, one attempt to define the boom came from David
Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo: Profiting from the Demographic
Shift in the 21st century (1997). He defines a Canadian boomer as
someone born from 1947 to 1966, the years that more than 400,000
babies were born. However, he acknowledges that is a demographic
definition, and that culturally it may not be as clear-cut.
Doug Owram argues that the Canadian boom took place from 1942 to 1960,
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.
Bernard Salt places the Australian baby boom between 1943 and
1960, while the
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics defines the
boom as 1946 to 1964.
Size and economic impact
76 million American children were born between 1946 and 1964,
representing a cohort that is significant on account of its size
alone. In 2004, the British 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
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." This is
supported by the articles of the late 1940s identifying the increasing
number of babies as an economic boom, such as a 1948
whose title proclaimed "Babies Mean Business", or a 1948 Time
magazine article called "Baby Boom."
The age wave theory suggests an economic slowdown when the boomers
started retiring during 2007–2009. Projections for the aging
U.S. workforce suggest that by 2020, 25% of employees will be at
least 55 years old.
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).
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. Fifty-seven
percent of these boomers believed it was important for each generation
to earn their own money; fifty four percent believed it was more
important to invest in their children while they were growing up.
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. Starting in the 1980s, the boomers became more
conservative, many of them regretting the cultural changes they
brought in their youth.
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
The early and mid-boomers were coming of age at the same time across
the world, so that they experienced events like
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. 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
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
Motown Sound, and other new musical directions and
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?" For the baby
boomers the results were:
Baby Boomer cohort number one (born 1946–55), the cohort who
epitomized the cultural change of the sixties
Memorable events: the
Cold War (and associated Red Scare), the Cuban
Missile Crisis, assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin
Luther King, Jr., political unrest, walk on the moon, risk of the
draft into the
Vietnam War or actual military service during the
Vietnam War, anti-war protests, social experimentation, sexual
freedom, drug experimentation, the Civil Rights Movement,
environmental movement, women's movement, protests and riots, and
Key characteristics: experimental, individualism, free spirited,
social cause oriented.
Baby Boomer cohort number two (born 1956–64)
Memorable events: the Cold War, the
Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis and the
assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther
King, Jr., for those born in the first couple of years of this
generation, the Vietnam War, walk on the moon, Watergate and Nixon's
resignation, lowered drinking age to 18 in many states 1970–1976
(followed by raising back to 21 in the mid-1980s as a result of
congressional lobbying by
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)), the
oil embargo, raging inflation, gasoline shortages, economic recession
and lack of viable career opportunities upon graduation from high
school or college, Jimmy Carter's reimposition of registration for the
draft, the Iran hostage crisis, Ronald Reagan, Live Aid
Key characteristics: less optimistic, distrust of government, and
general cynicism.
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
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
Aging and end-of-life issues
See also: Aging in the American workforce
As of 1998[update], it was reported that, as a generation, boomers had
tended to avoid discussions and long-term planning for their
demise. 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. 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)
In 2013, the early baby boomers (depending on birth years used)
reached a common retirement age in the United States: 67 years.
Impact on history and culture
Three American Presidents were born in 1946:
Bill Clinton (42nd),
George W. Bush
George W. Bush (43rd) and
Donald Trump (45th).
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 in according to Raines.
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. They are
also associated with the spending trends and narcissism of the "Me"
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
Baby boomers continue to have a big effect on politics, as the United
States presidential election, 2016 came down to two controversial
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both boomers, with a
majority of Trump's support coming from the Baby Boomer
generation. Three American presidents were born in 1946: Bill
George W. Bush
George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
Within the UK, numerous Baby Boomers have served as major party
leaders, including four prime ministers (John Major, Tony Blair,
Gordon Brown and Theresa May), and four leaders of the opposition
(Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair,
Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith and Jeremy Corbyn).
List of generations
Demographics of the United States
Strauss-Howe generational theory
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Inheritance to Kids
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Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers
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Willett, David (2011). The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their
Children's Future - and Why They Should Give It Back. Atlantic Books.
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Booming: Living Through the Middle Ages - a
New York Times
New York Times series
about baby boomers
Baby Boomers at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Baby boomers of New Zealand and Australia
Boomer Revolution, official site
Social generations of Western society
Time Persons of the Year
Charles Lindbergh (1927)
Walter Chrysler (1928)
Owen D. Young
Owen D. Young (1929)
Mohandas Gandhi (1930)
Pierre Laval (1931)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932)
Hugh S. Johnson
Hugh S. Johnson (1933)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1934)
Haile Selassie (1935)
Wallis Simpson (1936)
Chiang Kai-shek /
Soong Mei-ling (1937)
Adolf Hitler (1938)
Joseph Stalin (1939)
Winston Churchill (1940)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941)
Joseph Stalin (1942)
George Marshall (1943)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1944)
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman (1945)
James F. Byrnes
James F. Byrnes (1946)
George Marshall (1947)
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman (1948)
Winston Churchill (1949)
The American Fighting-Man (1950)
Mohammed Mosaddeq (1951)
Elizabeth II (1952)
Konrad Adenauer (1953)
John Foster Dulles
John Foster Dulles (1954)
Harlow Curtice (1955)
Hungarian Freedom Fighters (1956)
Nikita Khrushchev (1957)
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle (1958)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1959)
George Beadle / Charles Draper / John Enders / Donald
A. Glaser /
Joshua Lederberg /
Willard Libby /
Linus Pauling / Edward
Purcell / Isidor Rabi /
Emilio Segrè /
William Shockley / Edward
Teller / Charles Townes /
James Van Allen
James Van Allen / Robert Woodward (1960)
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1961)
Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII (1962)
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson (1964)
William Westmoreland (1965)
Generation Twenty-Five and Under (1966)
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson (1967)
Apollo 8 Astronauts:
William Anders /
Frank Borman / Jim Lovell
The Middle Americans (1969)
Willy Brandt (1970)
Richard Nixon (1971)
Henry Kissinger /
Richard Nixon (1972)
John Sirica (1973)
King Faisal (1974)
Susan Brownmiller /
Kathleen Byerly /
Alison Cheek /
Jill Conway /
Betty Ford / Ella Grasso / Carla Hills / Barbara Jordan
Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King /
Susie Sharp /
Carol Sutton / Addie Wyatt (1975)
Jimmy Carter (1976)
Anwar Sadat (1977)
Deng Xiaoping (1978)
Ayatollah Khomeini (1979)
Ronald Reagan (1980)
Lech Wałęsa (1981)
The Computer (1982)
Ronald Reagan /
Yuri Andropov (1983)
Peter Ueberroth (1984)
Deng Xiaoping (1985)
Corazon Aquino (1986)
Mikhail Gorbachev (1987)
The Endangered Earth (1988)
Mikhail Gorbachev (1989)
George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush (1990)
Ted Turner (1991)
Bill Clinton (1992)
Yasser Arafat /
F. W. de Klerk
F. W. de Klerk /
Nelson Mandela /
Yitzhak Rabin (1993)
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II (1994)
Newt Gingrich (1995)
David Ho (1996)
Andrew Grove (1997)
Bill Clinton /
Ken Starr (1998)
Jeffrey P. Bezos (1999)
George W. Bush
George W. Bush (2000)
Rudolph Giuliani (2001)
The Whistleblowers: Cynthia Cooper /
Coleen Rowley / Sherron Watkins
The American Soldier (2003)
George W. Bush
George W. Bush (2004)
The Good Samaritans:
Bill Gates /
Melinda Gates (2005)
Vladimir Putin (2007)
Barack Obama (2008)
Ben Bernanke (2009)
Mark Zuckerberg (2010)
The Protester (2011)
Barack Obama (2012)
Pope Francis (2013)
Ebola Fighters: Dr. Jerry Brown / Dr.
Kent Brantly / Ella
Watson-Stryker / Foday Gollah /
Salome Karwah (2014)
Angela Merkel (2015)
Donald Trump (2016)
The Silence Breakers