Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Social psychology: Altruism · Attribution · Attitudes · Conformity · Discrimination · Groups · Interpersonal relations · Obedience · Prejudice · Norms · Perception · Index · Outline

This article needs rewriting to enhance its relevance to psychologists..
Please help to improve this page yourself if you can..

For further information, see Post-World War II baby boom.

A baby boomer is a person born between 1946 and 1964 in Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Following World War II, these countries experienced an unusual spike in birth rates, a phenomenon commonly known as the baby boom. The term is iconic and more properly capitalized as Baby Boomers. The terms "baby boomer" and "baby boom" along with others (e.g. "boomies" or "boomers") are also used in countries with demographics that did not mirror the sustained growth in American families over the same interval.[1]

Causes of the post-World War II Baby Boom[]

A large part of the Baby Boom was an after-effect of World War II where the bombed out cities and fractured economies increased the needs for goods and services in unprecedented peacetime amounts. Consequently, the Arsenal of Democracy switched gears and started cranking out goods and materials for export, as the United States supplied the "free world" with goods to rebuild their own economies. This led to an unprecedented bubble of vigorous economic growth that did not diminish until 1968. Furthermore, in the U.S. the G.I. Bill enabled a record number of people to attend college and obtain, perhaps in many cases, the first college degree in their extended families. This led to an increase in education and granted higher incomes to families, allowing them the resources to raise more children.

Definition and dates[]

United States[]

There is some disagreement as to the exact beginning and end dates of the baby boom, but the range most commonly accepted is as starting in 1946 and ending in 1964.[2][3][4] The problem with this definition is that this period may be too long for a cultural generation, even though it covers a time of increased births. If the gross number of births were the indicator, births began to decline from the peak in 1957 (4,300,000), but fluctuated or did not decline by much more than 40,000 (1959-1960) to 60,000 (1962-1963) until a sharp decline from 1960 (4,027,490) to 1965 (3,760,358). This makes 1964 a good year to mark the end of the baby boom in the U.S.[5]

In his book Boomer Nation, Steve Gillon states that the baby boom began in 1946 and ends in 1960, but he breaks Baby Boomers into two groups: Boomers, born between 1945 and 1957; and Shadow Boomers born between 1958 and 1964.[6] Further, in Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers, author Brent Green defines Leading-Edge Boomers as those born between 1946 and 1955. This group is a self-defining generational cohort or unit because its members all reached their late teen years during the height of the Vietnam War era, the defining historical event of this coming-of-age period. Green describes the second half of the demographic baby boom, born from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s as either Trailing-Edge Boomers or Generation Jones. [7] In some cases the term Shadow Boomer is incorrectly applied to the children of the Baby Boomers; this group is more accurately referred to as Echo Boomers.

It can be argued that the defining event of early Baby Boomers was the Vietnam War and the protest over the draft which ended in 1973. Since anyone born after 1955 was not subject to the draft, this argues for the ten years including 1946 to 1955 as defining the baby boomers. This would fit the thirtysomething demographic covered by the TV show of the same name which aired from 1987-1991. The cultural disaffinities of those born after 1955 (thereby missing the draft and being too young to be part of the 1960s) could be captured by the Gen X of Douglas Coupland in his book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. The term "X" has itself been transformed to cover a later cohort....

United Kingdom[]

In the United Kingdom, the pattern of birth rates was different. There was a sharp post-World War II peak in 1947, when more babies were born than in any year since the post-World War I peak in 1920. There was then a decline, followed by a broader but lower peak in the 1960s. Thus British Baby Boomers are younger than their American counterparts and had not risen to such prominence when the term was coined. The two peaks can clearly be seen in the age structure of England and Wales[8].

Soviet Union[]

In the Soviet Union, members of the upswing in births born after World War II are called the Sputnik Generation after the Soviet-satellite launched in 1957. There was also competition on birth rate after the war. This was one of the many aspects of the Cold War.[9]

== Characteristics ==i'm gay as shit

Size and economic impact[]

There is much debate that the 76 million American children born between 1945 and 1964 represent a cohort that is significant on account of its size. As of 2007, the term baby boomer is generally applied to anyone between the ages of 44 and 62. Boomers comprise nearly 28% of the adult US population.[10] 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.[11]

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."[6] 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",[12] or Time article of February 9 1948.[13] The effect of the baby boom continued to be analyzed and exploited throughout the 1950s and 60s.[14] One of the first books analyzing the baby boomers was Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation by Landon Y. Jones.[15]

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's generation have found that their parents (due to modern technology) 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.

Cultural identity[]

The baby boomers were the first group to be raised on television, and television has been identified as "the institution that solidified the sense of generational identity more than any other."[6] Starting in the 1940s, people in diverse geographic locations could watch the same shows, listen to the same news, 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 was another expression of their generational identity. Rock and roll drove their parents crazy. Transistor radios were personal devices that allowed teenagers to listen to The Beatles and The Motown Sound. The Who summed it up in their song "My Generation".

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 has shown 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."[16]

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; and boomers in Mexico were discovering new hallucinogenic drugs and rediscovering old ones. It is precisely these experiences why many believe that 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?"[17] 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, 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

Death and dying[]

At some point, Baby Boomers will have a large impact on the death care services industry (Funerals/Hospice/Cemeteries), but as a generation, they have tended to avoid discussions and planning for their demise and avoided much long term planning.[18]

Baby Boomers often experience high anxiety about aging and death, and live in denial of these realities of life. Many do not believe these events have to be a reality of life.[19][20][21][22] 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."[23]

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."[24]

See also[]


  1. 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
  2. The Boomer Initiative retrieved 2007-01-25
  3. Aging Hipsters retrieved 2007-01-25
  4. It Seems Like Yesterday factoids retrieved 2007-01-25
  5. Birth numbers from the CDC, retrieved 2007-01-29
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Gillon, Steve (2004) Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever, and How It Changed America, Free Press, "Introduction", ISBN 0743229479
  7. Green, Brent (2006) Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions, Paramount Market Books, ISBN 0976697351
  8. Age Structure of England and Wales, UK Office for National Statistics UK population pyramids
  9. Russian baby boomers of "Sputnik Generation" tell their stories in Donald J. Raleigh's book Russia's Sputnik Generation: Soviet Baby Boomers Talk about Their Lives
  10. includeonly>"About us", Retrieved on 2007-07-05.
  11. Walker, Duncan (Sept 16, 2004) "Live Fast, Die Old", BBC News site, retrieved 2007-01-26.
  12. "Population: Babies Mean Business", Newsweek, Aug 9, 1948 retrieved 2007-01-26
  13. "Baby Boom", Time, Feb 9, 1948, retrieved 2007-01-26
  14. Edsall, Richard,"Bouncing Birth Rate Will Mean Big Future Consumer Market", Canadian Business, February 1957retrieved from It Seems Like Yesterday e-zine on 2007-01-25
  15. Jones, Landon Y., (1980 ed.), Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, Coward Mc Cann, 380 pages, ISBN 0698110498.
  16. Ostling, Richard S., "The Church Search", 5 April 1993 Time article retrieved 2007-01-27
  17. Schuman, H. and Scott, J. (1989), Generations and collective memories, American Psychological Review, vol. 54, 1989, pp. 359-81.
  18. Baby boomers lag in preparing funerals, estates, et al The Business Journal of Milwaukee - December 18, 1998 by Robert Mullins retrieved 2007-06-18
  19. Article in the New York Times, March 30, 1998
  20. Article from the Associated Press, March 5, 2004
  21. Article in the San Diego Union-Tribune
  22. Article by Robert Samuelson
  23. Link to search the text of Terry Grossman's book The Baby Boomers' Guide to Living Forever
  24. Satirical article from The Onion

External links[]

About Baby Boomers[]

Baby Boomer websites[]