Baby Boomers Greet Another Year

It’s a new year, and time for boomers to review who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going. There were nearly 79 million of us born between the years 1946 and 1964, and we’ve made our presence felt. See if you find these facts as fascinating as Mister Boomer does:

We’re a diverse group. The Boomer Generation is often talked about as having three sets of experiences based on birth year. Many can’t equate the perspectives of those born before 1950 to those who came after, let alone those born after 1960. The peak year for boomer births was 1957, when 4.3 million were born.

We’re aging. In 2014, the last of the baby boomers will turn 50 years old. That means the earliest boomers born in 1946 will be 68 this year.

We’re still hard-working. In a survey by AARP, most boomer respondents said they plan on working as long as they can, well past traditional retirement age. One in four say they will never retire.

We’ve got a few bucks. According to the U.S. Government Consumer Expenditure Survey, the median household income for boomers is 55% greater than post-boomers and 61% more than pre-boomers. The same survey says we’re big spenders, too. We outspend other generations on consumer goods and services by an estimated $400 billion each year. That’s economic power that helps drive our national economy from a generation that voiced never trusting anyone over 30.

We’re homeowners. Over 90% of boomers own a home. Take a look at U.S. Census records for your parents and their parents and you’ll see that wasn’t always the case. Many families rented their entire lives.

We’re online. An estimated one third of all Internet users are over the age of 50. In fact, in 2012 boomers spent an average of 2 hours more per week online than members of the Millennial Generation (27 hours vs. 25). We invented the Internet, dammit, and we’re going to use it!

We’re grandparents. Metlife says there were 65 million grandparents in 2010, and that number will jump to 80 million by 2020. Nearly 77% of the oldest boomers report having grandchildren. They have on average, four grandchildren.

We’d rather burn out than fade away. Boomers are living longer and are an active generation. In fact, many social historians are crediting baby boomers with the widespread acceptance and expansion of jogging, aerobics classes and neighborhood gyms.

We’re divorcing more often. By the age of 46, 87% of baby boomers had been married at least once. Over the past 20 years, the divorce rate has dropped among the population as a whole, but among baby boomers it has increased more than 50 percent. Researchers attribute this to our lifelong independent spirit and changing social mores. We grew up during the Sexual Revolution and don’t feel as obligated to stay married as our parents did. As a result, our children — and their children — aren’t marrying as often or as young as we did.

We’re still interested in sex. Boomers generally have had more sexual partners than previous generations. We were the first generation to take full advantage of the Pill, and now we’re the first to take full advantage of Viagra. Medical innovations and pharmaceutical breakthroughs are enabling us to have and enjoy sex well beyond earlier generations. Surveys suggest boomers — married or not — are still having sex … just not as often as we used to.

We’ve got our share of movers and shakers. Bill Clinton was the first boomer president (born 1946). George W. Bush and Steven Spielberg were also “leading edge” boomers, as were Cher, Diane von Furstenberg and Dolly Parton, among others. Hillary Clinton, Farrah Fawcett, Arnold Swarzenegger, Elton John, Rob Reiner, Stephen King and many others were born just a year later (1947). Think about the mark these folks have left on history and culture; and they’re just a fraction of people born the first two years of the Baby Boom, let alone the next sixteen!

We’ve defined and shaped the values for America and the world. People returned home after the War to the same levels of social problems they faced in the decades preceding: racism, sexism, homophobia and intolerance; environmental indifference and blind obedience to government and authority. It was baby boomers who stood against these injustices, and we’ve made progress. In the 1950s, smokestacks belching soot was a sign of progress. Now it’s just not going to be tolerated and is judged a health risk to families and future generations. Half of all teens report they would date interracially, a statistic no one would have believed fifty years ago. Our president, himself a baby boomer, would never have been considered for higher office in the Eisenhower era. Eighteen states have passed marriage equality statutes. None of these expanded American values would have been possible without the direct involvement of baby boomers.

Yes, we’re here and we’re not going anywhere. Good or bad, baby boomers have helped shape this modern world. Imagine that.