Born in record numbers in the period of social and economic optimism after WWII, the baby boomers generation was bound to have significant impact from their sheer numbers alone. They grew up at a time when families and culture in America were undergoing changes and were shaped by their times.
The baby boomers generation is one of the largest in history. From 1946 through 1964, over 3 million babies a year were born to Americans. The current number of baby boomer is estimated at approximately 77.3 million individuals. Their ages range currently from the mid 40’s to the mid 60’s.
This means that some boomers are currently in midlife and others are entering or have already entered retirement.
It’s good to look at the baby boomers generation in the context of history. Remember that the Great Depression was in full strength just before the outbreak of World War II. Jobs were scarce and income was low. Many families delayed or eschewed childbearing simply because they could not afford it. Birth rates remained low during the War because so many men were called into military service. It took a few years after the end of the War for it to become clear that the economy was thriving and for families to be willing to take the leap of having children.
So, where is the Baby Boomers Generation?
A thriving economy continued throughout most of the 60’s and birthrates did not begin to decline until 1965. The War had changed the nature of American families as well. Women went to work outside the home in droves to replace the manpower lost to the military, and many continued to work after the War ended. Returning service personnel took advantage of the the GI Bill to go to school and the VHA to buy homes. Baby boomers were more likely to have better educated parents, working mothers, and to live in home owning households.
While the baby boomers generation was growing up, the whole American culture went through many changes. Most were too young to remember much about the Korean War, but many did experience the Cold War and the escalation of nuclear weapons. Many remember significant historical events clearly, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis when the country seemed on the brink of war with the USSR. Many remember the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Others remember most clearly events like Watergate, the resignation of President Nixon and the draft associated with the Vietnam War.
The baby boomers generation has left a broad and deep footprint on American history. They experienced the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement. The Vietnam War and all its suffering and devastation were not distant, but seen every day in nearly every home on television. Both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama are actually members of the baby boomers generation, the former born at the beginning of the era and the latter at its end.