People born after the Second World War and before the late sixties in North America.

A large age demographic which influences a great deal of popular culture. Some say that's why tennis (apparently a young persons' game) was so popular in the 1980s and in the 1990s, when the boomers are older, golf became quite popular. There are many other trends that have also been blamed on this large group.

Picture this, the United States has just emerged from a period known as the Great Depression and following that, the end of World War II. That adds up to about sixteen years of being miserable and I guess people were pretty fed up and were ready to start getting busy and have a good time (if ya know what I mean). After all, these were the days before “the pill” and contraception wasn’t quite in vogue just yet. Women started marrying younger and the emphasis during those times centered more around raising a family behind a white picket fence then it did around entering the job market. The times were ripe for an explosion and that’s exactly what occurred.

Generally speaking, the term “Baby Boomer” refers to anybody who was born here in the United States between the years of 1946 and 1964. During that time period alone approximately 75.8 million Americans were born into this world. That’s a pretty astounding and here’s what it translates to if you break it down even further.

Per year – about 4,000,000
Per Day – 10,958
Per Hour -456
Per Minute – 7.1

That’s about one baby being born every 8.5 seconds!

And they said the 1960’s were all about “free love”.

People try to put us d-down
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)

For any of you non-boomers out there who live under a rock, those lyrics come from The Who in their anthem to youth known as My Generation.

I guess it’s hard to define or label such a large sampling of people as being one thing or another. Some things are true though. Baby boomers are genuinely thought to have grown up as the most pampered, wealthiest and privileged class of people ever to step foot on the planet. (Anybody else remember the line "We are stardust, we are golden"?) And yet, they demanded “change” as evidenced through the various protest movements throughout the 60’s and 70’s over such things as the Vietnam War, the feminist movement, and the Civil Rights Movement just to name a few.

During the 60’s alone they had lived through and witnessed such things as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK and his brother RFK. They watched Martin Luther King, Jr get gunned down on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis and the ensuing riots that erupted in many cities across the land. They fought the draft, watched a man walk on the moon, experimented with drugs and sex and partied at Woodstock.

As the 70’s rolled around they watched as the Watergate scandal eventually brought down the Nixon Administration and the end of the Cold War. They waited in line for gas, watched the drinking age fall and then rise and suffered through a period of inflation that had never been seen before or since in recent American history.

Today, Baby Boomers make up roughly 28 percent of the American population and many of them (appx 50,000 per day) are getting ready to “retire”. Most of them are wondering “how”.

Depending on who you listen to, Social Security will be broke and many have had their pensions fleeced over the years due to a variety of reasons, mismanagement probably being the most pervasive. As they reach their so called “Golden Years” they’ve seen their investments in such things as the stock market crumble due to the economic crisis brought on by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. They’ve seen the values of their homes plummet due to the burst of the housing bubble and many are left scratching their heads as the idealism of the 60’s and 70’s have turned into the reality that is the year 2012.

On a personal note, I qualify as a baby boomer. I was born in 1958 and during my earlier years aligned myself with many of the causes that I described earlier. In a way, I still do. To quote the last line of My Generation, “I hope I die before I get old” used to be something my friends and me would admire. That whole going out in a ball of fire thing held a certain allure that today, I can’t quite put my finger on.

Now, when the lights finally get turned out and my time arrives I hope I go out with a bit of dignity and grace and a few extra bucks and some fond memories to pass along to my loved ones.

Back then, I was asking for the whole world to be mine.

Today, just a little slice of it will do.


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