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Baby boomer

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A baby boomer is someone born in a period of increased birth rates, such as those during the economic prosperity following World War II. In the United States, demographers have put the generation's birth years at 1946 to 1964, despite the fact that the U.S. birth rate (per 1,000 population) actually began to decline after 1957. William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their book Generations include those conceived by soldiers on leave during the war, putting the generation's birth years at 1943 to 1960. Howe and Strauss argue that persons born between 1961 and 1964 have political and cultural patterns very different from those born between 1955 and 1960 and fit into what those writers term the Thirteenth Generation or Generation X (also known as the Cold War generation) born between 1961 and 1981. However, most people still accept Baby Boomers as being born between roughly 1946 and 1964. A growing movement puts the dates at 1946 to 1963 because of the amount of significant "Gen-X" figures born in 1964, including Courtney Love and Eddie Vedder. This is, among later generations, becoming a more accepted sequence of dates.

Contents

Place in time

Boomers' typical grandparents were of the Lost Generation; their parents were of the G.I. Generation and Silent Generation. Their children are of Generation X and the Generation Y and their typical grandchildren will be of the Generation Z (born roughly about 2000 - 2021).

Unlike the previous generation (the Silent), Boomers lack any childhood recollection of World War II. Unlike the next generation (Generation X), many American Boomers fought in Vietnam or organized opposition to it, or were reaching adolescence or lingering in "post-adolescence" (a term coined for them) as the Vietnam War drew to a close. See also Generation gap.

Born early or late within their generation, Boomers could hardly avoid a world of Beatlemania, mod clothes, a search of either new philosophical discoveries in India or hallucinogenic drugs in Mexico. A great gap emerged in America between those organizing against the Vietnam War and those fighting and dying in the same war, Although the term "Boomer" is now in global use, the generation is also known in Europe as the Generation of 1968 for protests that led to the fall of the French government and the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Cheap, easy travel, relative peace, inexpensive and widespread college education, and mass communications that others had created had made the philosophical and cultural awakening possible for many.

What Howe and Strauss termed the Consciousness Awakening of the 1960s faded, and the popular culture became less euphoric. Drugs and political radicalism began to charge persons less na´ve about self-interest than the hippies who flocked to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, and pathologies became more commonplace. By the 1970s a revival of religious activity led to a resurgence of religious fundamentalism that has reshaped American life. By 1980, reactionary trends had become surprisingly common in Boomers, and Ronald Reagan, a politician who had based much of his political career on opposition to the cultural tendencies of Boomers of the late-1960's, was able to win a majority of Boomers as voters.

Like other Idealist generations, Boomers got an early start in elective politics. By 1988 the elder George Bush selected the fortyish Dan Quayle as Vice-President; by 1992, American voters voted Bill Clinton in as President of the United States; the Presidential succession had gone from a veteran of World War II to a draft resister of the Vietnam War, bypassing the Silent Generation altogether. By 2001, George W. Bush succeeded Bill Clinton as President.

For their numbers and their resources, Boomers have had but slight achievements in technology and in any commerce not related to culture. However, they have had crucial roles in developing the American technology and finance industries which dominate to a good deal the US economy today, and popularizing and shepherding the growth of consumer goods and marketing development and sale.

Prospects

By the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, the oldest Boomers are approaching retirement age. The younger members of the generation are still in their forties, and many have yet to leave their mark upon history and still have time in which to do so. Patterns of history for Idealist generations suggest that Boomers will have a long tenure of political office and cultural influence, as was true for the Awakeners of Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams, the Transcendentals of Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman, and the Missionaries of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George Catlett Marshall. Patterns of history indicate that Boomers will occupy the upper echelons of worldly power through a likely Crisis Era that will not end until about 2020. The best Idealist leaders demonstrate vision, decisiveness, and culture that allows them to lead in the best manner in the worst of times.

A caveat applies: the arrogance, selfishness, and ruthlessness that Howe and Schwartz attribute to an unusual degree in all prior Idealist generations can lead to factional strife or to outright despotism. Younger generations may need to rein in these destructive tendencies. The best role that Boomers can perform in the next twenty or so years is to bring out the best in generations younger than themselves, as they will be old people during what Howe and Strauss predict will be some of the most dangerous times in human history.

Famous Baby-Boomers

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Two U.S. Presidents were born during the years 1943-1960: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It is estimated that the Boom Generation will not hold a plurality in Congress until 2015, the White House until 2021, and will have a majority in the Supreme Court from 2010 to 2030.

Non-U.S. peers of the Boomers include Lech Walesa, Mick Jagger, George Harrison, U2 frontman Bono, Daniel Ortega, Charles, Prince of Wales, and former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Their cultural endowments have included the following:

Categories: American Generations

See also

Usage examples

Preceded by:
Silent Generation
1928 – 1945
Baby Boomers
1946 – 1960
Succeeded by:
Generation X
1961 – 1981
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