Baby boomers lifestyle trends

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Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, “the cry of the baby was heard across the land,” as historian Landon Jones later described the trend. More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.” In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952; and more than 4 million were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally tapered off. By then, there were 76.4 million “baby boomers” in the United States. They made up almost 40 percent of the nation’s population.

The Baby Boom

What explains this baby boom? Some historians have argued that it was a part of a desire for normalcy after 16 years of depression and war. Others have argued that it was a part of a Cold War campaign to fight communism by outnumbering communists.

Most likely, however, the postwar baby boom happened for more quotidian reasons. Older Americans, who had postponed marriage and childbirth during the Great Depression and World War II, were joined in the nation’s maternity wards by young adults who were eager to start families. (In 1940, the average American woman got married when she was almost 22 years old; in 1956, the average American woman got married when she was just 20. And just 8 percent of married women in the 1940s opted not to have children, compared to 15 percent in the 1930s.)

Many people in the postwar era looked forward to having children because they were confident that the future would be one of comfort and prosperity. In many ways, they were right: Corporations grew larger and more profitable, labor unions promised generous wages and benefits to their members, and consumer goods were more plentiful and affordable than ever before. As a result, many Americans felt certain that they could give their families all the material things that they themselves had done without.

Moving to the Suburbs

The baby boom and the suburban boom went hand in hand. Almost as soon as World War II ended, developers such as William Levitt (whose “Levittowns” in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania would become the most famous symbols of suburban life in the 1950s) began to buy land on the outskirts of cities and use mass-production techniques to build modest, inexpensive tract houses there. The G.I. Bill subsidized low-cost mortgages for returning soldiers, which meant that it was often cheaper to buy one of these suburban houses than it was to rent an apartment in the city.

These houses were perfect for young families–they had informal “family rooms,” open floor plans and backyards–and so suburban developments earned nicknames like “Fertility Valley” and “The Rabbit Hutch.” By 1960, suburban baby boomers and their parents comprised one-third of the population of the United States.

The Baby Boom & The “Feminine Mystique”

The suburban baby boom had a particularly confining effect on women. Advice books and magazine articles (“Don’t Be Afraid to Marry Young,” “Cooking To Me Is Poetry,” “Femininity Begins At Home”) urged women to leave the workforce and embrace their roles as wives and mothers. The idea that a woman’s most important job was to bear and rear children was hardly a new one, but it took on a new significance in the postwar era. First, it placed the baby boomers squarely at the center of the suburban universe. Second, it generated a great deal of dissatisfaction among women who yearned for a more fulfilling life. (In her 1963 book “The Feminine Mystique,” women’s-rights advocate Betty Friedan argued that the suburbs were “burying women alive.”) This dissatisfaction, in turn, contributed to the rebirth of the feminist movement in the 1960s.

The Boomer Market

Consumer goods played an important role in middle-class life during the postwar era. Adults participated eagerly in the consumer economy, using new-fangled credit cards and charge accounts to buy things like televisions, hi-fi systems and new cars. But manufacturers and marketers had their eyes on another group of shoppers as well: the millions of relatively affluent boomer children, many of whom could be persuaded to participate in all kinds of consumer crazes. Baby boomers bought mouse-ear hats to wear while they watched “The Mickey Mouse Club” and coonskin caps to wear while they watched Walt Disney’s TV specials about Davy Crockett. They bought rock and roll records, danced along with “American Bandstand” and swooned over Elvis Presley. They collected hula hoops, Frisbees and Barbie dolls. A 1958 story in Life magazine declared that “kids” were a “built-in recession cure.” (“4,000,000 a Year Make Millions in Business,” the article’s headline read.)

The Boomer Counterculture

As they grew older, some baby boomers began to resist this consumerist suburban ethos. They began to fight instead for social, economic and political equality and justice for many disadvantaged groups: African-Americans, young people, women, gays and lesbians, American Indians and Hispanics, for example. Student activists took over college campuses, organized massive demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and occupied parks and other public places. Young people also participated in the wave of uprisings that shook American cities from Newark to Los Angeles in the 1960s.

Other baby boomers “dropped out” of political life altogether. These “hippies” grew their hair long, experimented with drugs, and–thanks to the newly-accessible birth-control pill–practiced “free love.” Some even moved to communes, as far away from Levittown as they could get.

Baby Boomers Today

Today, the oldest baby boomers are already in their 60s. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems.

Baby boom

Baby boom, in the U.S., the increase in the birth rate between 1946 and 1964; also, the generation born in the U.S. during that period. The hardships and uncertainties of the Great Depression and World War II led many couples to delay marriage and many married couples to delay having children. The war’s end, followed by a sustained period of economic prosperity (the 1950s and early 1960s), was accompanied by a surge in population. The sheer size of the baby-boom generation (some 75 million) magnified its impact on society: the growth of families led to a migration from cities to suburbs in the postwar years, prompting a building boom in housing, schools, and shopping malls. As the “boomers” reached young adulthood in the 1960s and ’70s, their tastes in music and their hair and dress styles strongly influenced the national culture, and the political activism of some contributed to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. As they aged and prospered in the 1980s and ’90s, their buying habits determined the course of many consumer industries, including automobiles. The needs of baby boomers during their retirement years were expected to strain public resources.

We’re excited to see how the lifestyles of this great generation will impact the way cities are designed. How might we see Chicago’s built environment evolve to adapt to the many Baby Boomers getting ready to retire?

1. Baby Boomers make up a big part of the population…and they’re getting ready to retire.

Political issues surrounding topics like Medicaid and social security are bringing a lot of attention to the Baby Boomers. Between 1946 and 1964, the US saw a major population increase in this generation, hovering around 76 million babies born.

Now that this population is approaching retirement, researchers and senior citizen advocates such as the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) are launching initiatives to understand how the individuals who make up this important generation are preparing for the next stage of their lives.

2. The livability index is making it easier to understand how to improve the quality of lives for Boomers.

What constitutes a livable environment? According to the AARP, “As the U.S. population ages, we face a serious challenge: our communities are not prepared for an aging society. In an effort to address this urgent problem, AARP sought to help consumers and policymakers decide whether their communities are places where residents can easily live as they get older. Taking a multifaceted approach to assessing livability at the neighborhood level, AARP developed this ground-breaking tool to jump-start community conversations about livability and encourage action by consumers and policymakers alike.”

Enter The Livability Index, a survey given to 4,500 individuals, ages 50 and above, to get a sense of general preferences for livability. The survey examined major elements of day-to-day living, including housing, health and transportation. The overarching trends indicate that seniors:

  • Tend to vary their social gathering spaces (private homes and public places)
  • Desire access to public transit
  • Value neighborhoods with good schools

Click images to enlarge

3. Baby Boomers are different from other retired generations before them.

Surveys have found that the Baby Boomer generation is preparing for the next stage of life in very different ways than generations prior. It was common for generations before the Baby Boomers to stay with a company for three or even four decades before retiring. Today though, many Boomers continue sharpening their professional skills, in large part because 65% of this generation foresees working past retirement age, or not looking towards retirement at all. Only 32% are counting on social security as their primary income source. Obviously, attitudes toward aging are changing.

Click image to enlarge

It has been suggested that Baby Boomers are also looking to maintain active lifestyles. Support by recent survey data suggests that seniors are less interested in moving to retirement communities and more enticed by urban areas, whether staying in the city they live in, or moving to places where transit and amenities are more readily available.

4. Look forward to Transit Oriented Development booms

The main goal of designing a livable area is improving health. The physical health of the city’s residents, creating positive and equitable community relations and ensuring that sustainability are all a priority. Housing and transportation remain key to creating and maintaining that environment.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) refers to zoning laws that connect high-density housing and transportation. The Livability Index reveals that seniors desire access to affordable, sustainable public transit and also, a variety of housing options with access to said transit. Seniors, whether single or families, want to live in a diverse environment. Along with diversity in housing comes opportunities for greater numbers of affordable housing. In Chicago, laws mandate a specific percentage of units in a building to be designated as affordable, and greater numbers of rezoned TODs can potentially bring about more affordable housing for seniors and families.

5. Millennials will soon become close friends with seniors and together, will become advocates for change.

According to Peter Ellis, Principal at CannonDesign (designing future infrastructure for Boomers), we’re looking at a future in which Millennials and seniors will make up roughly half of the population of the average American city.

What is most striking about the findings of the Livability Index is how universal they are. Community amenities such as quality parks and maintained pedestrian areas, mixed-use living and access to sustainable transit, have typically been associated with younger generations who opt for bikes and public transportation over cars, and prefer local grocery stores and farmers markets to supermarket chains.

In actuality, the desires of Millennials and seniors seem to match. As more young people move into cities, demanding efficient and affordable living spaces, they may find that their closest allies for vibrant, sustainable communities are the Baby Boomers living next door.

POLITICO EUROPE

The U.S. 2020 election — barring a shocker — offers a strong chance of producing a president in their 70s.

American voters face leading candidates who are another septuagenarian baby boomer whose vision for America is to go back to the so-called glory days (Donald Trump), go back to boring (Joe Biden) or radically reshape America by spending trillions upon trillions of dollars (Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders) the U.S. may not really have.

And the strangest bit is that each of these front-runners, even with radically different approaches, is promising to somehow address massive structural problems that their own generation — the enormous baby boom — largely created during a three-decade run dominating American political life.

The offering includes outliers like Pete Buttigieg, the millennial South Bend, Ind. mayor running openly on generational change. But the most likely outcome as it stands now is that the nation will yet again ask a baby boomer to fix what the baby boom broke. And it’s a lot to fix.

“We have Social Security. We have the national debt. We have what’s called ‘deferred maintenance’ in infrastructure. And of course we have the climate,” Bruce Gibney, author of “A Generation of Sociopaths,” said in the first episode of “Baby Bust,” the new POLITICO Money podcast series on the political and financial legacy of the baby boom generation. “I think the main impediment right now is the death grip the boomers have had over the political system.”

What went wrong

That death grip could hold at least another four and perhaps eight years in the White House.

Gibney and other critics of the baby boom generation argue that the huge cohort that came of age in the prosperous years after World War II spent much of their time in power cutting their own taxes, ensuring that giant entitlement programs are protected — at least for themselves — and doing little to protect the environment or invest in American infrastructure or address the mounting student loan crisis.

It wasn’t entirely their fault, students of the generation say. Boomers just grew up at a time when everything was fairly awesome and people assumed they would stay that way.

The baby boomers “grew up in an era when there was something close to full employment almost all the time. Wages were going up with productivity, and productivity was going up very fast. Incomes were growing at the rate of 2 percent a year, something that we haven’t seen since,” said Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and himself a boomer. “The baby boom happened to get older at the same time that America adopted an economic model that was actually pretty counter-productive, which did not actually produce rising wages and incomes for people at a very good clip, that enhanced inequality.”

A bipartisan generational critique

The first boomer U.S. president, Bill Clinton, did raise taxes in the early 1990s and briefly created government surpluses after all the charts and warnings and televised lectures from Ross Perot. But he also suffered an ugly impeachment over personal misbehavior and efforts to cover it up.

And progressives blame him for expanding the penal state, cutting capital gains taxes for the rich and engaging in petty personal feuds with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich — another boomer — leading to government shutdowns and the dawn of the kind of scorched earth, Forever War politics that now dominate Washington.

Following Obama — whom many Gen Xers claim as one of their own — boomers helped elect another boomer, Donald Trump | Marcelo del Pozo/Getty Images

U.S. President George W. Bush, far from addressing government funding problems, engaged in a short-lived movement to privatize Social Security and added an expensive prescription drug program to Medicare whose main beneficiary was older Americans. His presidency was then largely consumed by the massive and costly post-9/11 war on terror, leaving concerns about climate, entitlements and infrastructure spending aside.

Barack Obama — technically a late-era boomer but more Gen X by personal temperament — attempted to strike a “grand bargain” with tea party-led Republicans and then-House Speaker John Boehner to address long-term entitlement sustainability and spending issues along with significant tax hikes.

But it all fell apart when progressives balked at entitlement overhauls and Republicans at tax hikes. The brief bipartisan moment when it seemed like some real change might happen vanished as quickly as it appeared.

The rise of Trump

Following Obama — whom many Gen Xers claim as one of their own — boomers helped elect another boomer, Donald Trump, partly on his promises to restore manufacturing greatness while also not touching any entitlements for those at or nearing retirement.

Trump essentially junked the entire approach of the tea party movement in favor of far greater spending on the military — along with Democratic priorities to secure the Pentagon money — and signed a $2 trillion tax cut that slashed rates for corporations and rich people with a little thrown in for everyone else. Under Trump’s watch, the annual deficit has grown close to $1 trillion and the national debt to over $22 trillion.

Baby boomers in power, according to their critics, have done a fairly good job of ensuring that Social Security and Medicare will be protected for those at retirement but much less to ensure they will be fully funded for later retirees.

The GOP has essentially returned to the ethos of former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney — that deficits don’t matter — after they spent the Obama presidency threatening shutdowns and debt defaults over out-of-control spending. Critics of Trump’s fiscal approach argue the tax cut was the last gasp of the baby boom attempting to direct money to itself.

“The tax cut that was passed is the best example,” said author and attorney Steven Brill, also a baby boomer. “Most of the money the corporations have saved through that tax cut have gone to buybacks of stocks, which make the shareholders richer.”

Trump also pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement aimed at sharply reducing emissions and rolled back many environmental regulations of the Obama White House.

Through all of this, U.S. presidents and Congresses of both parties, largely governed by baby boomers, did little to address what engineers suggest are nearly $5 trillion in infrastructure updates needed in the U.S. as rising powers like China pour massive resources into such projects. Calling every week “infrastructure week” has become a running joke in political circles.

Baby boomers in power, according to their critics, have done a fairly good job of ensuring that Social Security and Medicare will be protected for those at or near retirement — including tens of millions of boomers — but much less to ensure they will be fully funded for later retirees including Gen X, millennials and Gen Z.

Social Security and Medicare might not be going broke. But the outlook isn’t great.

Donald Trump essentially junked the entire approach of the tea party movement in favor of far greater spending on the military and signed a $2 trillion tax cut that slashed rates for corporations and rich people with a little thrown in for everyone else Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

“As long as people are working there will be at least money coming into Social Security,” said Nancy Altman, chair of the board of directors of the Pension Rights Center. “Even if Congress did nothing whatsoever, people would get three-quarters of their scheduled benefits, which is not good enough, but it isn’t nothing.”

Boomers defended

Many baby boomers defend the generation’s contributions, citing advances in gender equality, the protest movement against the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement (even though most landmark civil and voting rights laws were passed when the median boomer was around 12 years old).

Some also argue that it’s not fair to look at political failures through a purely generational lens, arguing that plenty of boomers (including Warren and Sanders) have long argued for more forward-thinking, less self-interested policies but failed to win enough power to enact them. And they say there is still a legacy the baby boom can leave to Gen X, millennials and Gen Z as those generations finally take over political power.

“Typical Xer, you’re saying, ‘Yeah, they gave us diet foods and yoga,’” said Neil Howe, managing director of demography at Hedgeye and a leading theorist on generational cycles. “I think boomers gave younger generations a language of communitarianism and whole-ism that they are going to use when it comes time to bind this country back together again.”

The boomer Democrats

The current crop of Democratic candidates is dominated by boomers and near-boomers including Biden, Warren and Sanders who are one, two and three in nearly every national and state poll. Biden has largely based his campaign around taking another shot at the Obama approach that sought to address major structural problems like climate change, entitlements and debt through coalition-building, both domestically and in international accords like the Paris treaty and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a giant trade deal meant in part to counter China’s rise as a global economic and military power.

Warren and Sanders both have widespread support from many younger voters.

Obama’s biggest legacy, the Affordable Care Act, was more of an incremental approach to driving down costs and making care more accessible. Biden has defended the law but is struggling to beat back challenges from the left that what is needed is not incrementalism but radical change including wealth taxes, “Medicare for All,” student loan forgiveness and free college. Entire industries, including big tech and Wall Street, need to be busted up and reformed, according to the Warren and Sanders view of the world.

For progressives and economists who believe deficits and debt really don’t matter at all, this is a welcome change in political direction. And Warren and Sanders both have widespread support from many younger voters.

But Warren has now found herself in something of a political quagmire as she promises to explain how she would pay for government-funded health care for all with estimates of the cost at around $3 trillion a year without boosting taxes on the middle class.

The millennial Democrat

Into all this comes Buttigieg, running as a millennial alternative to all the older candidates as well as more of a centrist who wants to take on structural problems left by the boomers but not in ways that send deficits and debt into the stratosphere.

Entire industries, including big tech and Wall Street, need to be busted up and reformed, according to the Warren and Sanders view of the world Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“You have a different sense of urgency around these issues if you’re expecting in your lifetime to be dealing with them personally,” Buttigieg said on the podcast. “So by 2054, when I get to the current age of the current president, the shape of the world then, both environmentally, economically and beyond, that’s not a theoretical question; it’s a personal one that I have to prepare for just as a human being.”

Buttigieg added that, “There’s just no way we can get very far into the next few decades on this tax policy without a fiscal time bomb going off.”

And as for the baby boom legacy? “I think a lot of wrong decisions get made out of just a kind of political or moral laziness that says that certain consequences, because they’re going to hit down the road, aren’t consequences for the politicians who are dealing with them, especially politicians who work one election cycle at a time,” Buttigieg said.

What about Gen X?

Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, may never find themselves with a U.S. president to call their own, even if they lay claim to Obama, who was born in 1961. But that doesn’t mean the generation won’t have a significant role to play in future elections and political debates that increasingly pit baby boomers bent on protecting their investments and entitlements against millennials and members of Gen Z seeking to significantly alter the structure of taxation and federal benefits.

The role may wind up being quintessential Gen X, attempting to referee between much bigger generations to find some kind of compromise where everyone can win.

“I guess we’re going to have to choose, in some of these presidential elections, if it pits a baby boomer against a millennial with very different ideas, and I think there is significant political weight to Gen X and how those decisions are ultimately made, right?” said Amy Walter, a Gen Xer and national editor of the Cook Political Report.

“Like, we’re not meaningless in terms of which way we go in the coming presidential elections of the next four, eight, 12 — even longer than that. There is some significant political importance to how Gen X decides on a lot of these things.”

The offering includes outliers like Pete Buttigieg, the millennial South Bend, Ind. mayor running openly on generational change. But the most likely outcome as it stands now is that the nation will yet again ask a baby boomer to fix what the baby boom broke. And it’s a lot to fix.

“We have Social Security. We have the national debt. We have what’s called ‘deferred maintenance’ in infrastructure. And of course we have the climate,” Bruce Gibney, author of “A Generation of Sociopaths,” said in the first episode of “Baby Bust,” the new POLITICO Money podcast series on the political and financial legacy of the baby boom generation. “I think the main impediment right now is the death grip the boomers have had over the political system.”

That death grip could hold at least another four and perhaps eight years in the White House.

Gibney and other critics of the baby boom generation argue that the huge cohort that came of age in the prosperous years after World War II spent much of their time in power cutting their own taxes, ensuring that giant entitlement programs are protected — at least for themselves — and doing little to protect the environment or invest in American infrastructure or address the mounting student loan crisis.

It wasn’t entirely their fault, students of the generation say. Boomers just grew up at a time when everything was fairly awesome and people assumed they would stay that way.

The baby boomers “grew up in an era when there was something close to full employment almost all the time. Wages were going up with productivity, and productivity was going up very fast. Incomes were growing at the rate of 2 percent a year, something that we haven’t seen since,” said Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and himself a boomer. “The baby boom happened to get older at the same time that America adopted an economic model that was actually pretty counter-productive, which did not actually produce rising wages and incomes for people at a very good clip, that enhanced inequality.”

The first boomer president, Bill Clinton, did raise taxes in the early 1990s and briefly created government surpluses after all the charts and warnings and televised lectures from Ross Perot. But he also suffered an ugly impeachment over personal misbehavior and efforts to cover it up.

And progressives blame him for expanding the penal state, cutting capital gains taxes for the rich and engaging in petty personal feuds with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich — another boomer — leading to government shutdowns and the dawn of the kind of scorched earth, Forever War politics that now dominate Washington.

President George W. Bush, far from addressing government funding problems, engaged in a short-lived movement to privatize Social Security and added an expensive prescription drug program to Medicare whose main beneficiary was older Americans. His presidency was then largely consumed by the massive and costly post-9/11 war on terror, leaving concerns about climate, entitlements and infrastructure spending aside.

President Barack Obama — technically a late-era boomer but more Gen X by personal temperament — attempted to strike a “grand bargain” with tea party-led Republicans and then-House Speaker John Boehner to address long-term entitlement sustainability and spending issues along with significant tax hikes.

But it all fell apart when progressives balked at entitlement overhauls and Republicans at tax hikes. The brief bipartisan moment when it seemed like some real change might happen vanished as quickly as it appeared.

Following Obama — whom many Gen Xers claim as one of their own — boomers helped elect another boomer, Donald Trump, partly on his promises to restore manufacturing greatness while also not touching any entitlements for those at or nearing retirement.

Trump essentially junked the entire approach of the tea party movement in favor of far greater spending on the military — along with Democratic priorities to secure the Pentagon money — and signed a $2 trillion tax cut that slashed rates for corporations and rich people with a little thrown in for everyone else. Under Trump’s watch, the annual deficit has grown close to $1 trillion and the national debt to over $22 trillion.

The GOP has essentially returned to the ethos of former vice president Dick Cheney — that deficits don’t matter — after they spent the Obama presidency threatening shutdowns and debt defaults over out-of-control spending. Critics of Trump’s fiscal approach argue the tax cut was the last gasp of the baby boom attempting to direct money to itself.

“The tax cut that was passed is the best example,” said author and attorney Steven Brill, also a baby boomer. “Most of the money the corporations have saved through that tax cut have gone to buybacks of stocks, which make the shareholders richer.”

Trump also pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement aimed at sharply reducing emissions and rolled back many environmental regulations of the Obama White House.

Through all of this, presidents and Congresses of both parties, largely governed by baby boomers, did little to address what engineers suggest are nearly $5 trillion in infrastructure updates needed in the U.S. as rising powers like China pour massive resources into such projects. Calling every week “infrastructure week” has become a running joke in political circles.

Baby boomers in power, according to their critics, have done a fairly good job of ensuring that Social Security and Medicare will be protected for those at or near retirement — including tens of millions of boomers — but much less to ensure they will be fully funded for later retirees including Gen X, millennials and Gen Z.

Social Security and Medicare might not be going broke. But the outlook isn’t great.

“As long as people are working there will be at least money coming into Social Security,” said Nancy Altman, chair of the board of directors of the Pension Rights Center. “Even if Congress did nothing whatsoever, people would get three-quarters of their scheduled benefits, which is not good enough, but it isn’t nothing.”

Many baby boomers defend the generation’s contributions, citing advances in gender equality, the protest movement against the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement (even though most landmark civil and voting rights laws were passed when the median boomer was around 12 years old).

Some also argue that it’s not fair to look at political failures through a purely generational lens, arguing that plenty of boomers (including Warren and Sanders) have long argued for more forward-thinking, less self-interested policies but failed to win enough power to enact them. And they say there is still a legacy the baby boom can leave to Gen X, millennials and Gen Z as those generations finally take over political power.

“Typical Xer, you’re saying, ‘Yeah, they gave us diet foods and yoga,’” said Neil Howe, managing director of demography at Hedgeye and a leading theorist on generational cycles. “I think boomers gave younger generations a language of communitarianism and whole-ism that they are going to use when it comes time to bind this country back together again.”

The current crop of Democratic candidates is dominated by boomers and near-boomers including Biden, Warren and Sanders who are one, two and three in nearly every national and state poll. Biden has largely based his campaign around taking another shot at the Obama approach that sought to address major structural problems like climate change, entitlements and debt through coalition-building, both domestically and in international accords like the Paris treaty and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a giant trade deal meant in part to counter China’s rise as a global economic and military power.

Obama’s biggest legacy, the Affordable Care Act, was more of an incremental approach to driving down costs and making care more accessible. Biden has defended the law but is struggling to beat back challenges from the left that what is needed is not incrementalism but radical change including wealth taxes, “Medicare for All,” student loan forgiveness and free college. Entire industries, including big tech and Wall Street, need to be busted up and reformed, according to the Warren and Sanders view of the world.

For progressives and economists who believe deficits and debt really don’t matter at all, this is a welcome change in political direction. And Warren and Sanders both have widespread support from many younger voters.

But Warren has now found herself in something of a political quagmire as she promises to explain how she would pay for government-funded health care for all with estimates of the cost at around $3 trillion a year without boosting taxes on the middle class.

Into all this comes Buttigieg, running as a millennial alternative to all the older candidates as well as more of a centrist who wants to take on structural problems left by the boomers but not in ways that send deficits and debt into the stratosphere.

“You have a different sense of urgency around these issues if you’re expecting in your lifetime to be dealing with them personally,” Buttigieg said on the podcast. “So by 2054, when I get to the current age of the current president, the shape of the world then, both environmentally, economically and beyond, that’s not a theoretical question; it’s a personal one that I have to prepare for just as a human being.”

Buttigieg added that, “There’s just no way we can get very far into the next few decades on this tax policy without a fiscal time bomb going off.”

And as for the baby boom legacy? “I think a lot of wrong decisions get made out of just a kind of political or moral laziness that says that certain consequences, because they’re going to hit down the road, aren’t consequences for the politicians who are dealing with them, especially politicians who work one election cycle at a time,” Buttigieg said.

Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, may never find themselves with a president to call their own, even if they lay claim to Obama, who was born in 1961. But that doesn’t mean the generation won’t have a significant role to play in future elections and political debates that increasingly pit baby boomers bent on protecting their investments and entitlements against millennials and members of Gen Z seeking to significantly alter the structure of taxation and federal benefits.

The role may wind up being quintessential Gen X, attempting to referee between much bigger generations to find some kind of compromise where everyone can win.

“I guess we’re going to have to choose, in some of these presidential elections, if it pits a baby boomer against a millennial with very different ideas, and I think there is significant political weight to Gen X and how those decisions are ultimately made, right?” said Amy Walter, a Gen Xer and national editor of the Cook Political Report.

“Like, we’re not meaningless in terms of which way we go in the coming presidential elections of the next four, eight, 12 — even longer than that. There is some significant political importance to how Gen X decides on a lot of these things.”

Millennials, don’t be fooled into believing the baby boomers ate your lunch – we were in the kitchen making it for you

I don’t want to sound like the Fifth Yorkshireman in the Monty Python sketch – itself the best ever parody of intergenerational discord – but I do sometimes wonder what is going through the minds of the young people of today. A misplaced sense of entitlement, maybe?

This isn’t an assault on “snowflakes”. Life can be very tough for school and university leavers, in some respects more difficult than I could ever have dreamed. But that is not the whole picture. Forgive me for saying this, because I know it is unwelcome, but there really is no such thing as “intergenerational fairness”. It is, in fact, a very silly idea indeed, and one that is linked to that irrational sense of entitlement that seems to pervade this debate.

Just because the Resolution Foundation, a think tank, says that the notional average income of retired people is now a little higher than that of people who are in work and younger, doesn’t amount to “unfairness” in any real sense. “Unfairness” relates to justice, about whether people are being treated on an equal basis to one another; and, if they are not, that this is on defensible, sensible grounds.

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It is true that in some ways the younger generation have things harder than their parents did at their age, but that doesn’t make it “unfair”. It just means you’re passing through different economic times – times that may, in any event, change. For it to be “unfair” would imply that every generation has some sort of right to enjoy a standard of living equal to or higher than its predecessors.

That has been the recent experience, yes, but for centuries of human existence it has not. If we are now entering into a world of slower economic growth, then it is best to confront this and learn to live with it, rather than resenting it and wrongly raiding pension funds and taxing those who happen to have lived through a time of relative plenty as some kind of misplaced punishment.

On many measures, I will concede that my generation – I am one of the supposedly very lucky born between 1945 and 1965 – had charmed lives. Free university education, a couple of housing booms, rising incomes, windfalls from privatisations. But if we are well off, it wasn’t because of some chance accident of fate. We made the choices and went through the hardships that delivered a more prosperous country in the first place. Life was tough for us, too.

We were the generation that made Britain what it is today; despite everything, an advanced, rich, tolerant, multicultural, open society with more equality of opportunity than ever before in its history – including when we were trying to make our way in the world.

I have to say this to the rising generations of the 2000s: we did not eat your lunch, we made it for you. Indeed many of us feel far from fortunate and are envious of the coming generation, and not just for the obvious reasons that they are, usually, healthier and handsomer than us lot.

One reason why the older generation is £20 a week better off than those in work, according to the Resolution Foundation, is because many of these people in their fifties, sixties and seventies aren’t just pottering around the garden, planning their next cruise or visiting the grandkids, but because they aren’t actually retired at all.

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Many in retirement have to stay in or go back to work because the benefits system doesn’t allow them to make ends meet, especially if they themselves are caring for an (even) older parent or loved one in declining health – an emotional as well as financial issue. Or, perhaps, because the much-vaunted pension schemes that they thought they could rely on in retirement have gone bust, been stolen, closed or arbitrarily cut because the parent company collapsed.

Many in the private sector have little or no traditional final-salary scheme entitlements. They have had to save and rely on the vagaries of the stock market. For those professionals who lived and worked in the south in the public sector, who took away a salary-based pension and maybe a nice part-time consultancy on the side, life is sweet; for someone in Hull who has worked in some menial role in the private sector and left with only a measly “money purchase” scheme (not related to their end salary at work), things are not so rosy.

Is that “fair”? There are intergenerational differences that all too often get forgotten in these ugly, divisive debates.

The Resolution Foundation’s numbers hardly tell the real story. Let’s take the obsession with property: it’s certainly true that my generation has witnessed a probably unprecedented rise in house prices over the last couple of decades. That, you could argue was a form of luck. But of course not everyone has been able to benefit from that in equal measure. Indeed, it is very much a phenomenon mostly confined to the south of England and London. Northern pensioners will have rather less equity in their homes than their southern cousins, again a rather arbitrary redistribution of wealth, “unfair” you might argue.

We, the baby boomers, have also had to live through a couple of housing crashes, and with the periodic reality that our homes were sometimes worth less than we paid for them. The phrase “negative equity” is unknown to today’s aspirational homeowners; it stills ends a shudder through the spine of anyone much over the age of 45.

In the early 1990s, when mortgage rates rocketed (yet again) to approaching 20 per cent, when unemployment was rising and houses were being repossessed, the future did not look golden. One slip at work would mean not only unemployment but homelessness. For some, that is precisely what happened – and with court judgements against their name that made it difficult, if not impossible, for them to get another mortgage. If we have now managed to pay off the mortgage then it was no doddle. When the squeeze was on, it meant doing without.

Can we even enjoy what we have, we baby boomers? Not for long. Such is the crisis in social care, there’s every chance that this supposedly great wealth we have accumulated will in effect be taxed away through having to pay for our own social or residential care, our houses and savings and pension entitlement in effect requisitioned by the local authority at a wealth tax rate of 100 per cent. That’s if we’re unlucky enough to get dementia, Parkinson’s or some other long term debilitating disease. If we get knocked over by a tram or have a nice clean heart attack, then our heirs and successors get to enjoy the proceeds. There is, let me assure you, nothing fortunate or fair about any of that.

Look around you. Today, interest rates have, literally, never been lower. Mortgages are freely available for those who have saved up for a deposit, and in many parts of the country this is still possible. The Government keeps inventing schemes to subsidise house purchases or renting, too.

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Housing construction, we’re promised, will soon be expanded massively, which could make a radical difference to the availability of decent housing. Even if it didn’t, it would only take one housing crash to make many houses and flats affordable again and dissolve the “housing crisis”.

And even if house prices in the south stay high, a question does arise: who has a human right to own a flat in Clapham? There is nothing unfair about renting, or living in the provinces and commuting, and in past booms people now comfortably settled in their own luxurious houses had to do the same. There was never some golden age of a guaranteed cheap housing for all. That it is a corrosive myth that must be done away with.

Yes, in past decades property could be much cheaper to secure, but very often for a reason. In macroeconomic terms it was because the economy had collapsed. In micro terms it was because many neighbourhoods simply weren’t desirable. Many now popular parts of inner London were once seedy as well as costly.

Which brings me to some of the other sacrifices we baby boomers had to make, which were the basis for the economic growth that underpinned all the benefits (and drawbacks) of rising property values, an expanding economy, growing businesses and jobs.

My generation lived through the 1970s, when the unions ran industry, we had continual strikes, periodic power cuts and shortages of basic goods; and then through the 1980s, when Thatcherism, whatever its longer-term dividends, was a nasty, divisive and above all punishingly brutal economic discipline.

The period from 1973, when the oil crisis struck, until 1994, when the British economy started on its long run of sustainable growth with low inflation, was a protracted period of trouble and strife for a generation. It made even the recent financial crisis look like a tea party. If Britain wasn’t ungovernable, it was unrepairable. And 1976 Britain went bust, like Greece today, and had to get a loan from the IMF to keep going.

These were decades of rapid and brutal deindustrialisation, of persistent high unemployment often accompanied by soaring interest rates, rising taxes, stagnant wages and runaway inflation, shredding your savings along the way. If you were unlucky, as a member of the “lucky” generation, your monthly mortgage bill could exceed your monthly salary cheque.

Shape Created with Sketch. A selection of the most powerful millennials in the world

Show all 5 left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch. Kim Jong-un

2/5

Mhairi Black

3/5

Neymar

4/5

Kim Kardashian-West

5/5

Alexander Wang

1/5

Kim Jong-un Mhairi Black Neymar Kim Kardashian-West Alexander Wang

Public spending in those days looks generous by comparison to today, but the NHS was still perennially in crisis, it was impossible to get onto a council housing list, state schools had notoriously poor standards and the old age pension, far from being generous, was decoupled from the link with wages so the only “guarantee” pensioners enjoyed was that that they would become poorer in relation to the rest of society every single year for the next three decades. That was why the Liberal Democrats, in coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives, came up with that “triple lock” to increase the state pension – to correct a trend that had reduced an earlier generation of pensioners to poverty.

My generation certainly didn’t leave university with gigantic debts or tax liabilities to pay off their university fees. Then again, far fewer of us ever had the chance to go to university. Today it is approaching half of that age group. The culture is different now, and rightly; universities have expanded, polytechnics have joined them, and more and more young people enjoy the benefits of everything higher education can bring, intellectually, socially and, in due course, financially. The salary premium for having a degree is less than it was and graduate unemployment is sometimes higher – but that is inevitable when there are simply more graduates around. You cannot double the size of the tertiary education sector with no financial consequences. Besides, there is a strong argument that those who benefit personally from the investment should make a contribution to it, a closer approximation to “fairness” than many I have heard.

Health is also better for the younger generation, and on an age-for-age comparison too. There are new treatments, new drugs, a much more enlightened attitude to exercise, smoking and drinking than there ever was in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of these cures are available free on the NHS.

A child born this year will easily make it to see the 22nd century; a good few years longer than one born in either 1917 or indeed 1967. He or she has a far better chance of avoiding a stroke, and of recovering from one better – and that is the prime cause of disability in later life in Britain. He or she will have a better standard and quality of life, and for longer than people my age. And what’s “fair” about that?

Was it, by contrast, fair that my grandparents’ generation had to fight a couple of world wars and make it through the depression, but that I didn’t? Was it “fair” that their ancestors had to fight off diseases such as TB that are easily dealt with today, and that they enjoyed no right to health or education, or the vote, and were still lucky to make it past 50?

Was it “fair” that people my age had to grow up in a world still disfigured by routine racism, homophobia, sexism, class prejudice and a truly gruesome attitude to people with disabilities? That was the rigidly stratified society that the baby boomers inherited and we changed for the better as we took control of the adult world.

Is it “fair” that tomorrow’s generation will see vast improvements in living standards we can only glimpse at today? Is it “fair” that, in real terms, almost everything apart from housing is cheaper and better today than it has ever been? Is having virtually cost-free access to more data, information, news, movies, music and everything else to be taken for granted? When I was growing up cars were rusty wrecks by their fourth birthday, there were three TV channels only (and colour TVs were a luxury), books and records were expensive, meals out were embarrassingly bad, pasta was an alien concept, curries came in powdered form and Alpen was about as adventurous as things were going to get at the breakfast table.

Millennials, you’ve got Facebook and Twitter. Next time you’re using them, remember that if we wanted to contact a friend or colleague we had to wait three months for the Post Office to install a telephone, or go out to find a pay phone box that worked and hadn’t been used as a loo.

Baby Boomers represent the 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964. They were born during the post World War II baby boom. They rejected and redefined traditional values. They are also the wealthiest, most active and have the most disposable income for food, apparel and retirement programs. They are retiring later in life due to the economic recession of 2008 but are living longer than any generation before them. Below, I break down the Baby Boomer generation across all aspects of their life, including consumerism, their values, their political views and employment status.

Facts About Generations Series

51 Of The Most Interesting Facts About Generation Z.
74 Of The Most Interesting Facts About Millennials.
44 Of The Most Interesting Facts About Generation X.
53 Of The Most Interesting Facts About Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers and the economy

  • Baby Boomers face present value lifetime costs for uncovered long-term care of $44,000.
  • 65% of Baby Boomers plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire and 34% plan to continue working for enjoyment, including 18% who want to stay involved and 16% who enjoy what they do.
  • 59% of Baby Boomers are unemployed and looking for work and 33% are employed and looking for work.

Baby Boomer values

  • 67% say that adult children have a responsibility to provide financial help to elderly parent in need compared to 84% of millennials.
  • 39% support same-sex married compared to 70% of millennials.
  • 90% are married and 49% were married between 18 and 33.
  • 17% don’t identify with one religion compared to 36% of millennials.

Baby Boomers as employees

  • 80% of Baby Boomers in their early 50s are in the workforce and a third of the oldest boomers are still working in some capacity.
  • 67% of Baby Boomers are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work.
  • 41% of Baby Boomers say workers should stay with an employer at least five years before looking for a new job.
  • Baby Boomers are most likely to have the highest-paying jobs, including Chief Medical Officer (CMO) ($300,700), Psychiatrist ($215,200), and Aerospace Engineer ($122,800).
  • 54% of Baby Boomers spend between 5 and 20 hours per week searching for a job.
  • 87% of Baby Boomers choose job boards as the resource they turn to first in a job search.
  • LinkedIn is the top choice of Boomers (29%) of social networking sites for job searching.
  • 65% of Boomers feel like they suffer from age discrimination.
  • For Boomers, the most important things they look for in a job are meaningful work (60%) and location (57%).
  • 64% of boomers said they feel relevant to their company’s vision and mission.
  • 67% said they’ve had enough training to become a leader at their company.
  • 61% of Baby Boomers say that Boomers are the most capable of leading organizations.
  • 53% of Baby Boomers said that men make better leaders than women.

Baby Boomers as entrepreneurs

  • More than 80% of Baby Boomers launch ventures as a lifestyle choice or to boost income. These boomer entrepreneurs are primarily choosing to start businesses because it allows them to be independent (32%), pursue their interests and passions (27%) or increase their income (24%).
  • 66% who own businesses agree or strongly agree that they can easily think of people who would be great partners if they ever decided to start a business.
  • Baby Boomers are twice as likely to launch a new business compared to millennials. There’s a 35% chance that an older business owner started the business he or she currently manages.
  • 45% of Baby Boomers consider themselves to be entrepreneurs.

Baby Boomers as consumers

  • 30% would access a mobile coupon to redeem in a retail store and 32% research products online.
  • Boomers represent 44% of the US population, and in the next 5 years, they’re projected to hold 70% of US disposable income and buy 49% of total consumer-packaged goods.
  • Baby Boomers account for over 50% of sales for 72% of over 6,500 brands that Nielsen tracks.
  • 59% said newspapers and magazines were instrumental in starting their consumer product search.
  • 77% of Boomers will purchase something based on its value followed by 42% who had a positive experience in the store and interestingly enough, 42% choose an item based on price.
  • 35% of all U.S. homeowners are Baby Boomers.
  • Baby Boomers spend 18% more time than Millennials on their home search, averaging 4.9 months searching for a home to buy.
  • Baby Boomers spend the most across all product categories but are targeted by just 5-10% of marketing.
  • Over the next 20 years, spending by Boomers is expected to increase by 58% to $4.74 trillion.
  • Baby Boomers are responsible for 80% of all luxury travel spending.
  • 62% have the best experience at a brick-and-mortar store when buying a product compared to 19% who said online-only retailer.
  • 74% have praised a brand in person to others and 54% have in-store.
  • 86% are a member of a brand loyalty program to get points and rewards and 71% to get better deals.

Baby Boomers as investors

  • 70% of the disposable income in the U.S. is controlled by Baby Boomers.
  • Baby Boomers will inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years.
  • Boomers own 80% of all money in savings and loan associations.
  • 59% of Boomers expect Social Security to be a major source of their income during retirement.
  • 45% of Boomers surveyed had absolutely nothing saved for retirement.
  • 30% postponed their retirement plans 30% stopped contributing to retirement accounts.
  • 73% say they are fairy or very knowledgeable when it comes to investing compared to 25% that aren’t knowledgeable at all.
  • 65% turn to a financial advisor and 39% turn to news outlets are their primary source for investment advice.
  • 71% of Baby Boomer workers have access to a 401(k) or similar plan offered by their employer, including 78% who are working full-time and 42% part-time.

Baby Boomers in Politics

  • 44% identify themselves as conservative, 33% moderate, and 21% liberal.
  • 66% of Baby Boomers say that preserving social security and medicare is more important than reducing the deficit.
  • 35% of Baby Boomer voters say that the government should do more to solve our problems compared to 59% of Millennials.
  • They get their news from local TV (60%), Fox News (47%), and NBC News (47%).
  • 45% select politics and government as one of the three topics that they are most interested in.
  • 34% are conservative, 33% are liberal and 35% are mixed.

MANY people use titles like millennials and baby boomers to refer to various generations, and it can be confusing to decipher exactly what age group they’re talking about.

Although there’s no official agreement on the exact year each generation begins, here is a rough guide to when each one starts and finishes – so that you can find out where you fit in.

2 Various labels are used to describe generations, but there are a few overlapsCredit: Getty – Contributor

What are baby boomers?

Following World War II, there was a “baby boom”, which gives this generation their nickname.

The increased birth rates make them a large portion of the population, and they are typically born between the early to mid 1940s, to 1960 – 1964.

They benefited from a time of increasing affluence and higher levels of income than their parents, and a surge in consumerism, enjoying more money to spend on food, clothes, and holidays.

What is Generation X?

Following the baby boomers, Generation X are born between the early-to-mid 1960s, and the early 1980s.

Culturally, Generation X saw the rise of musical genres such as grunge and hip-hop, as well as indie films.

They are sometimes called the “MTV Generation”, as they experienced the emergence of music videos, and the MTV channel.

2 ‘Millennials’ is a popular term in modern culture, but it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint exactly when they were bornCredit: Getty – Contributor

What are millennials?

This is the term that most people recognise the most, commonly associated with avocado on toast, and ‘snowflake’ culture.

They are born between 1980 or the months before to the mid 1990s or early 2000s, so many young adults nowadays would define themselves as millennials.

The generation was severely impacted by recession, as it caused record unemployment, affecting young people joining the workplace, as well as a period of economic instability.

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Resources – Articles

10 Mind-Blowing Baby Boomer Facts

In 1966, Time chose “The Generation Twenty-Five and Under” for its Man of the Year issue. This group went on to become the 76.4 million people known as Baby Boomers.

As a group, would-be Boomers were the wealthiest, most active and most physically fit generation up to that time. Many of them grew up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. They liked Ike and loved Lucy. They watched in awe as Elvis Presley twisted his hips and squealed as the Beatles invaded the US.

They were the first generation to attend integrated schools. They were encouraged to turn on, tune in and drop out. They sat in the rain for “3 Days of Peace & Music” at the Woodstock Festival. They learned to duck and cover and got their news once a day from a Newspaper. They were told the medium is the message so they attached tin foil to their rabbit ears to watch 3 television stations… in black and white. They bought chewing gum, cigarettes, even cars because they liked the advertising jingles.

So what are these Boomers up to today? Catch up with these 10 mind-blowing Baby Boomer facts.

  1. Baby Boomers make up about 26 percent of the population. California has the highest population of Baby Boomers (9 million), followed by Texas (5.6 million), New York (5.1 million), Florida (4.6 million) and Pennsylvania (3.4 million). (55places.com)
  2. On December 31, 2029, the last of the Boomers will turn 65. The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050. Possibly more than 80 million will be on Medicare and Social Security. (CNN)
  3. There’s a widely paraded myth that Baby Boomers have a lot of wealth. They don’t. Sure, they have more discretionary income than any other age group. However, in 2007, before the housing bubble burst, older households (between 55 and 64) had a median net worth of $266,000. By 2010, that shrunk dramatically (33%) to $179,400. (Governing.com)
  4. Boomers financially support their adult children. Almost 60% of Baby Boomer parents provide financial support to their adult children, including living expenses, medical bills and paying off loans. (Forbes)
  5. Baby Boomers are the Web’s largest constituency. They make up over 30% of US internet users. They spend 16 hours per week watching T.V. and 19 hours per week online. (Google/Ipsos)
  6. Search and email are the top two online activities among Boomers. A DMN3 survey of online Boomers found that 96.1% of use search, while 94.8% of Boomers use email. They often use the Internet to research health and wellness information, as well as plan and book leisure trips. (DMN3)
  7. Boomers contribute more positive online product reviews than other generational groups. They contribute 45% of the total online product opinions and assign 3% more five-star ratings. (Bazaarvoice)
  8. Boomers love Facebook. An astonishing 84.9% of Boomers said they use Facebook. (DMN3)
  9. Boomers are comfortable with online transactions. Almost 9 out of 10 Boomers have made an online purchase. (eMarketer)
  10. Baby Boomers are confident, independent and self-reliant. This generation grew up in an era of reform and believe they can change the world. They went from Hippie to Yuppie. Baby Boomers understand that the world doesn’t owe them anything. They’re not afraid of confrontation and will not hesitate to challenge authority and status quo. (About.com)

10 Popular Baby Boomer Activities

Baby boomers have adopted attitudes and lifestyles unlike any previous generation. The 78 million diverse Americans born between 1946 and 1964 enjoy a variety of activities, ranging from aerobics and workouts to quality time with their favorite rock ‘n’ roll albums .

But there’s more to the generation that refused to trust anyone over 30. For starters, aging baby boomers are unlikely to settle for your typical bingo night . In fact, experts predict the group to redefine expectations of retirement and aging .

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As we’ll learn, baby boomers might do things differently to accommodate their needs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t cooperate or act flexible at work and home. Though many individuals care for their own aging parents and children, boomers still find time to partake in their favorite activities.

So which pastimes appeal to the generation of bell bottoms and Beatlemania? What are popular baby boomer activities?

First, we’ll look at how boomers stay active, sometimes to the detriment of their bodies.

There’s a lot of buzz about millennials today and how to market to them.

Marketers often tell you that to appeal to millennials, you need to get on Snapchat and other popular social channels.

You need to learn how to create a video that will go viral.

You need to make sure you’ve got enough of a balance of the ordinary and extraordinary in the messages you try to deliver.

You can’t forget to make remarks about making a real difference in the world.

While we, as marketers, can do all this and more, it can get exhausting!

Why are we crafting the majority of our messages to millennials when there are 74.9 million baby boomers out there who want to buy our products too?

We do this because the number of millennials has surpassed the number of baby boomers. There are 75.4 million millennials today (millennials are defined as those between the ages of 18 and 34). But the difference between millennials and baby boomers is small.

Marketing to millennials can feel crazed. It means high-energy, quickly-consumable, frenzied marketing because they have a “fear of missing out,” also known as FOMO.

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, also have a need to be informed, but they’re a little more patient about it.

It’s true that no company can focus on just one generation. You have to have a strategy appealing to everyone on some level, and that’s why targeting is so important.

Whenever I work with a company to define its customer, I focus on understanding its target market and then segmenting it.

Often, what I find is that a single product or service can be marketed to each of the three generational segments:

  1. Baby boomers – born between 1946-1964
  2. Generation X – born between 1965-1980
  3. Millennials – born between 1981-2000

The generation that often gets overlooked is that first one—baby boomers!

When it comes to the 50+ demographic, only 10% of marketing budgets are used to reach this generation.

Why is this the case? Why such low marketing expenditure on a generation which, as I’m about to show you, could be incredibly lucrative?

Some marketers think the boomer generation is boring. They’re not sexy. They’re aging. They’re set in their ways. They’re not tech-savvy. Why even bother?

This is a huge mistake! Boomers can be sexy; they’re not as old as you think; they’re not that set in their ways; and they’re incredibly tech savvy.

Why bother? Because the baby-boom generation is probably the hottest age-defined marketing segment you can tap into.

Baby boomers have money

Millennials may have surpassed boomers in numbers, but more than 70% of the disposable income in the US comes from baby boomers.

And here’s the thing. They actually spend it!

How much do they spend?

Try 3.2 trillion every year.

Yes. Trillion. With a “t.”

And that’s just the US.

If you want to know who will go through with that credit card purchase online, you should probably bet on baby boomers.

Let’s face it. Most millennials don’t have a lot of money.

Look at the generational breakdown. Who has the biggest net worth? And who has the biggest total income?

Answers: Boomers, and boomers.

It’s great to get millennials energized and excited, but at the end of the day, they don’t have the collective power to turn that energy into money for you.

Baby boomers are on social media, big time

A big misconception about baby boomers is that they are old and traditional so they don’t use social media.

In fact, half of people aged 50 to 64 are on social media, likely on more traditional and well-established platforms such as Facebook.

The bottom line is you don’t have to do all your marketing on Periscope or Snapchat.

The largest audience to date on social media is on Facebook. You’ll get your baby boomers there more than anywhere else.

But what do these boomers do on social media?

I think this is fascinating. They’re watching! One social technographic survey found that baby boomers were primarily “spectators.”

In other words, your grandpa might not be the one starting the Reddit flamewar, but he is reading his Facebook news feed.

Let’s take this a step further.

This means baby boomers comprise the largest potential viewership of Facebook advertising!

You can target your Facebook ads demographically. When you do so, why not widen the age group to include baby boomers too?

Look at this survey of baby boomer activity on social media:

Social media marketing is all about engagement. The data shows us that baby boomers are an incredibly likely source of such engagement.

Baby boomers are making purchases to improve their lifestyles

You have to remember that baby boomers created suburbia as we know it. They bought homes. They left the urban decay of the cities. They began living in comfortable communities.

One Forbes marketing writer put it this way:

want to be out on their own, in a more luxurious place… They are actively looking for newly constructed homes where they can continue to pursue an active lifestyle surrounded by the latest amenities.

Everyone wants to have fun, right? Millennials, Generation Xers—all of us are eager to have a good time.

But baby boomers, more than any other generation, have both the time and money to spend on comfort, amenities, entertainment, and recreation.

Appeal to these aspirations, and you’ll be speaking to them in a way that resonates with them.

Boomers buy products and services for others, not just themselves

Boomers love to invest in educational products and services, especially for their grandchildren (ahem, the millennials).

If you can market your products in this way, you’ll grab their attention.

They value education, loyalty, and authenticity, and any kind of content or product that fulfills that goal will be of interest to them.

I’ve worked with companies that make apps designed to help parents monitor the health and well-being of small children. (Think baby monitors and associated apps.)

When we dug into the marketing, we discovered that a large percentage of their buyers were in the baby-boom generation!

Further research showed that many baby boomers had taken on the role of primary caregivers of their grandchildren.

As young parents pursued their careers, these grandparents used their retirement to provide care to their grandchildren.

And that’s why your parent-focused product or schoolchild-aged toy might benefit from some baby-boomer-targeted advertising!

Boomers are active online shoppers

Boomers are interested in saving money. Besides shopping, they are doing other things online that make life easier. Investment bankers are trying to convert them with the help of this online investing advice, which is an interesting prospect.

With so many of us trying to convince our audiences to invest in our brands, appealing to baby boomers could be a win-win.

Boomers are very tech savvy

Boomers may have grown up buying everything at a department store and using fax machines, but today, they aren’t afraid of online shopping.

In fact, “66% of people over 50 in the United States routinely make purchases from online retailers.”

And email? They’re all in.

Not only that, but they’re likely to click through and check out the promotion you’re emailing them about!

According to eMarketer, “the majority of baby boomers now own smartphones.”

They’re not using their smartphones as a glorified land line. They’re shopping, researching, and purchasing!

If you’re not marketing to baby boomers on mobile devices, you’re missing out on easy money for your business.

Boomers respond to hipster advertising styles

Some have called boomers the “new hipsters.” They’re the Woodstock generation that grew up and became responsible.

They purchase hipster clothing. They respond to hipster advertising.

They even live in hipster neighborhoods!

Today, loyalty and a sense of well-being are important to them when choosing companies to give their money to, but you can awaken their nostalgia with a good throwback photo every now and then.

Conclusion

Baby boomers as a whole tend to be hard-working people prone to spending money and learning new things.

They want to be informed about the going-ons of the world, and they want to interact with their brands in a personal way. They want you to help them when they are troubleshooting, and they count on you to deliver on a good product when you say you will.

They’re also willing to wait for your messages and communication much longer than millennials.

They won’t tolerate you ignoring them, but they don’t expect you to constantly entertain them.

Knowing these key characteristics about baby boomers is power in your marketing hands because you can tweak your message to appeal to this large group of people.

Don’t fall into the trap of appealing only to millennials with every message.

Baby boomers make up a population that nearly equals the millennials, and they are more active on social media and mobile applications than ever.

Take a long, hard look at your product or service.

Would a baby boomer be interested?

Don’t underestimate this generation. There are very few products or services a baby boomer wouldn’t be interested in, as we saw above.

The least you can do is try. Tweak your messaging; try some new ad targeting; and see what happens!

Do you have a product or service that would appeal to baby boomers?

Five Things You Need To Know About Marketing To Baby Boomers

Generational marketing is a key issue in the field of senior in-home care because our target market is the senior population and their adult children caregivers or guardians. The baby boomer generation, which encompasses people between the ages of 53 and 71, fits both generations.

As the digital senior manager for a 24-hour senior home health corporation, I’ve discovered some key factors about how to market to baby boomers that have helped me attract the attention of our target market. Baby boomers are abundant, affluent and more tech-savvy than you might think. They’ve worked hard all their lives for all they have. They’re healthier and more active than their parents were at the same age, and they’re all about themselves.

1. Baby boomers are a big audience.

Baby boomers make up one of the largest sectors of consumers, so every marketer should be paying attention to effective marketing strategies for baby boomers. Generational studies show that about 70 million people fall into the category of baby boomers. The baby boomer generation is the largest segment of consumers, comprising about 40% of the market share.

2. Baby boomers are an affluent generation.

Employers who seek hard-working candidates will still find them among the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers hold a strong reputation for being diligent, hard workers who have saved and spent wisely.

Studies show that the baby boomer generation controls about 70% of all disposable income in the U.S. The baby boomers are also nicely situated to gain even more wealth. As their parents pass on, studies predict that baby boomers will inherit about $13 trillion to enjoy during their retirement or pass on to their own children.

3. Baby boomers are more tech-savvy than you think.

Baby boomers remember the introduction of the first black-and-white and color televisions. It’s important for marketers targeting this generation to remember that baby boomers have grown up with technology over recent decades. They’re more accustomed to technology than you might think, and they use it in different ways than millennials.

During my years of marketing to baby boomers, I’ve learned that the baby boomer generation spends as much time online as they do watching television. It might surprise you to learn that 96% of baby boomers use search engines, 95% use email, and 92% shop for products and services online rather than shopping in stores and shopping malls.

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About 60% of baby boomers spend time reading blogs and online articles as a source of information and intrigue, and about 70% enjoy watching videos about products and services. If you’re looking to market via social media platforms, you’ll find an active audience of baby boomers on Facebook, where they’re happy to post news and photos of their grandchildren and latest vacations.

4. Baby boomers are the “me generation.”

Baby boomers are considered the “me generation” for their self-centered, individualistic attitudes. In marketing to people looking for in-home senior healthcare, I know that seniors want to enjoy their independence as much as possible. In-home senior care lets them have as much freedom as possible while maintaining their dignity. Adult child caregivers and guardians want to be able to care for their parents and still be able to work, enjoy their own families and have some well-earned fun. In-home senior care allows them to take care of their responsibilities and take care of themselves, too.

5. Baby boomers are healthy and active.

A large majority of baby boomers are in the pre-retirement stage of life. They are still working full- or part-time and looking forward to life as empty-nesters. They are working hard to pay off mortgages and other debts and maximize their returns on investments. It’s prudent to pay attention to these baby boomers’ characteristics in marketing. They’re looking for senior care that is reliable, trustworthy and offers a reasonable cost.

Baby boomers have been more health-conscious than their own parents. Medical technology makes it possible for them to live healthier and longer. Unlike their parents, who desired to relax during retirement, the baby boomer generation wants to get out and do all the things they’ve always dreamed of doing. Many seniors can remain active with some help from an in-home caregiver.

Many people are starting to think of the age of 50 as the new 40. Baby boomers aren’t yet thinking of themselves as an aging population. Terms like aging and elderly are a big turnoff, although they don’t mind the terms “seniors” and “senior citizens” as much.

While baby boomers are healthier and more active than their parents, their eyesight is starting to deteriorate. When marketing to this population, I stay mindful of the size and color of fonts. If my target audience can’t easily read our ads and blogs, they’re likely to click on a competitor’s ad quickly.

Because of the size of the baby boomer population, nearly every industry has an audience in this marketing sector. When marketing to baby boomers, it’s important to understand who they are, where they come from, and where they hope to be in the future when getting their attention for your business.

Millennials don’t want to buy baby boomers’ sprawling, multi-bedroom homes, and it’s creating a major problem in the real-estate market

  • Millennials and baby boomers tend to make different lifestyle choices, from marriage and family to how they spend their money.
  • The two generations also have different tastes in homes.
  • Millennials aren’t buying the large, elaborate houses built by boomers in Sunbelt states like Arizona, Florida, and the Carolinas, Candace Taylor reported for The Wall Street Journal.
  • These houses end up sitting on the market and selling at massive price cuts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s well documented that millennials tend to make different lifestyle choices than baby boomers do, from waiting longer to get married and have children to spending their money on health, wellness, and experiences rather than material goods.

But boomers and millennials also want very different types of houses, and it’s creating a major problem in the real-estate market.

Fifteen years ago, boomers were building large, elaborate houses in states like Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina, Candace Taylor reported for The Wall Street Journal earlier this year. Now, faced with the effort of maintaining such houses, they’re looking to downsize.

The only problem? Young people aren’t interested in buying their houses, according to the Journal.

“Homes built before 2012 are selling at steep discounts — sometimes almost 50%, and many owners end up selling for less than they paid to build their homes,” Taylor wrote.

Boomers are looking to downsize, but millennials aren’t interested in their huge houses

“These days, buyers of all ages eschew the large, ornate houses built in those years in favor of smaller, more modern-looking alternatives, and prefer walkable areas to living miles from retail,” Taylor wrote.

Younger buyers are also uninterested in outdated interior design.

“Design trends have shifted radically in the past decade,” Taylor wrote. “That means a home with crown moldings, ornate details and Mediterranean or Tuscan-style architecture can be a hard sell, while properties with clean lines and open floor plans get snapped up.”

In addition to their love of open floor plans, millennials are known for being partial to minimalist, low-maintenance designs and sleek, discreet appliances, elements not always found in older homes.

Millennials want clean lines, not elaborate designs. Getty Images

Another hurdle for boomers looking to sell is that most younger buyers want to buy modern, newly constructed homes to avoid paying for renovations or plumbing and electric issues, according to a 2018 report from Nationwide Mortgage.

Thanks to crushing student loan debt and rising prices, it’s much harder for millennials to buy homes at all

Millennials are often seen as a generation of renters, but many of them want to buy homes — it’s just much harder for them to do so.

Millennials buying their first home today are likely to pay 39% more than baby boomers who bought their first home in the 1980s, Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported. And there’s a limited supply of starter homes on the market, which is causing prices to shoot up.

The millennial generation is also working on paying off record levels of student-loan debt, making it difficult to take on a mortgage loan.

In lieu of traditional multi-bedroom homes favored by baby boomers, millennials love alternative living situations such as tiny homes, which are much cheaper and can offer a unique, flexible lifestyle.

When millennials can finally afford to buy a home, it makes sense that they’d hold out for something that’s exactly to their taste.