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Baby boomers are the demographic group of Americans born during the post war baby boom that stretched from 1946 to 1964. This generation and its role in culture has been largely shaped by the pervasiveness of television and later of the universal presence of computers. Boomers are now taking on a new identity as they become “golden boomers” approaching retirement age.
Just what are baby boomers? It is a question well worth considering since the baby boom generation is the largest and possibly the most significant in American history.
The generation is the product of a time when the United States and much of the rest of the Western civilization was thriving and at peace. The huge numbers of men who had been away fighting in World War II had returned to their families and babies were welcomed in the time of optimism. The birth rate in the U.S. Soared beginning in 1946 and remained at this high level until it declined after 1964.
While all of those born during this 19 year period, some 77+ million of them, are considered baby boomers, the group born between 1956 and 1964 are also designated as Generation Jones. These later born baby boomers take this name from the author Landon Jones who is given credit for coining the terms baby boom and baby boomer. While still part of the population increase of the the increased and sustained high birthrate, Generation Jones has some distinct differences in cultural experiences from those born in the earlier half of the boom.
Baby boomers are the children of burgeoning technologies and tsunamis of cultural change. They experienced that advent of the space age and the miracle of an man walking on the surface of the moon in 1969. Like most of the significant events in the lives and society of the baby boomers, this event was televised live. Television meant that baby boomer did not just hear the news, they watched it play out often in real time and it profoundly affected them. The horrors and suffering of any war was not just something seen in an occasional newsreel by the time of the Vietnam War, but rather a drama played out night after night on the evening news.
Baby boomers as a generation have seen mass communication and information processing radically transformed. Computer which were rare oddities in the 1950's have become commonplace and common even in very modest homes. The Internet has put the entire world no further away than a few strokes of the keyboard.
Now baby boomers are taking on a new identity as the “golden boomers.” These are the members of their generation who are at or near retirement age. It is sobering to contemplate that about 10,000 of these golden boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years. Society and the boomers will both need to adjust to this change in status.