The Baby Boomer generation is the largest generation this nation has ever seen. We Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, with the “Boom” beginning right after World War II came to an end. Whether it was American families’ need for normalcy and life after the death and deprivation of the war years, or a national desire to fight communism – by sheer numbers – instilled by Cold War propaganda, the trend was obvious: more babies were born in the US in 1946 – and for 18 years after that — than in any year since our nation’s inception (over 3.4 million). In fact, in the “Baby Boom” years, it is estimated that over 77,000,000 infants were born in the US.
The Baby Boom was also an economic boom, as all the growing families created a much higher demand for consumer goods. It also changed the face of the real estate market, as the “suburban boom” paralleled. Baby Boomers’ parents – and then our families as we married and had children of our own – moved into suburban developments in droves.
As kids, we Boomers were the first generation to be overtly targeted en masse by marketers. Consumer crazes – fads – swept the nation, such as Frisbee, Barbies, Coonskin caps, and Mickey Mouse Club-mania. Life Magazine once called the Boomer generation a “built-in recession cure.” Consumerism and materialism became the norm.
As teens, and into our college years, many of us resisted the 1950s-style suburbanite culture, leading the fight for social equality and civil rights for minority populations. We were the generation of student activism, anti-war demonstrations, sit-ins, feminism, and (unfortunately) riots in some of the biggest cities in the ‘60s. We were also the generation of the “hippies,” who dropped out, listened to the best bands in the history of rock, experimented with mind-altering substances, and practiced “free love,” far from the mores of our “square” parents.
Baby Boomers now are ongoingly easing into their retirement years, with the oldest Boomers already in their mid-70s. Despite such negative experiences as Vietnam, race riots, and recessions, we have, in general, been a fortunate generation of Americans. We have had more educational, financial, and social opportunities than any generation before us, and have grown up and raised our families during decades of optimism, exploration, and achievement.
Most of us Boomers are excited about this next chapter of our lives and are sure to keep it interesting and leave our stamp on it as we have done throughout our history.
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Originally published January 27, 2023