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The Baby Boomer Generation

They've arrived. In 2011, that first round of Baby Boomers—those Americans born between 1946 and 1964—turns 65.

From now until 2030, 10,000 Baby Boomers each day will hit retirement age. Millions will begin to officially retire, collect social security checks and go on Medicare. Other Boomers will keep on working either out of financial necessity or out of some less tangible need like identity and self-worth.

In the several decades prior to the Boom, babies in the U.S. were born at a rate of about 2.5 million a year. Then in 1946, this rate exploded to 3.4 million and maintained this pace for the next few decades. The peak years were 1957 and 1961 with 4.3 million births a year. In all, these years produced about 76 million Baby Boomers. The official retirement age to receive a Social Security check is 62. At 65, you'll automatically receive Medicare which covers basic health care at 80%. If you wait to retire until you're 67, your benefit will be about 30% higher than at 62. Wait another three years to retire and you could receive a 75% bigger check. It certainly pays to wait.

Are you a Baby Boomer or do you have a loved one that is? This generation was one of the largest in American history, and it is perhaps one of the most important right now when it comes to senior living. This group of people has very unique personalities, and their life histories are vastly different than today's younger generation. Here's a closer look at who they are and what they stand for.

What's a Baby Boomer?

A Baby Boomer is a term used to describe people that were born during the period of time right after World War II. During that period of time, the birth rate of Americans soared. This is where the name comes from. This is a term used to describe an entire generation of people. And, this generation came after The Greatest Generation (or GI Generation) and the Silent Generation. Generation X followed this generation, followed by Millennials.

Baby Boomers were born in an era that experienced great U.S. political and social upheaval. From race riots to the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam protests, the assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK, and the man on the moon to free love and drug experimentation, Boomers saw a U.S. that was both financially prosperous and socially turned on its head. Consider the U.S. economy between 1940 and 1960:

  • Gross National Product doubled
  • Real purchasing power increased by 30%
  • Four-fifths of American families owned at least one car
  • Home ownership increased to 61%

This growth was due to their parents, the Greatest Generation. The Boomers were responsible for some growth: consumer debt jumped from 22% in 1946 to 110% in 2002. Boomers are often labeled as individualist, selfish, cynical, pessimistic, narcissistic, and socially responsible. But it's hard to label a group that came into the world over a nearly two decade stretch—so much happened so fast over those years. Many are certainly looser with social conventions than their parents. Consider the following.

In one survey, 44% of Baby Boomers were fine with sex outside marriage, 37% approved of casual sex, 29% approved of legalizing marijuana. Americans born in the 40s were dancing to Buddy Holly one decade and starting their careers the next. Boomers born in the 50s grew up with the Beatles, Dylan and the Stones, and protested the Vietnam War in college. The 60s Boomers caught the tail end of Vietnam, Watergate and Richard Nixon's resignation and Disco. A Boomer born in 1964 could be the child of a Boomer born in 1946.

Boomer Statistics and Facts

The following Baby Boomer statistics may surprise, frighten or enlighten you:

  • Baby Boomers make up 28% of the population.
  • Baby Boomers are responsible for over half of consumer spending.
  • Baby Boomers control 80% of personal financial assets.
  • One in three Americans over 65 relies on Social Security benefits alone.
  • Three out four claim benefits when they turn 62 out of financial necessity.
  • In 2010 Social Security paid out more in benefits than it received in tax payments.
  • In 1950, 16 workers paid for each retiree's SS benefit; In 2010, it was 3.3 workers and by 2025 it's projected to be two workers.

40% of Boomers plan to “work until I drop” according to an AARP survey.

SeniorLiving.org was created for the Baby Boomers. Our site includes tons of articles to help baby boomers plan their retirement and maximize their lifestyle.

We also have the most complete directory of senior living options so boomers can plan for their heath care needs. It was the baby boomers that made our country great and now we hope you will use Senior Living to help you get the top-notch retirement  you deserve.

What Are the Birth Years for the Baby Boomer Generation?

Baby Boomers officially were born between 1946 through 1964. Sometimes, this range is 1943 through 1964. In all cases, it was the generation that was born just following the return of the military from World War II. By the end of 1946, there were 2.4 million baby boomers born. That was just that initial year. In 1964, that number swelled to 72.5 million baby boomers. And, by 1999, their highest population present in the United States was 78.8 million people. This also includes those who immigrated to the country and were born in those years.

What Generation Came Before Baby Boomers? Which Came After?

As noted, the Silent Generation came directly prior to the Baby Boomer generation. This generation, which spanned from 1925 through 1945 was an era in which these individuals were considered more cautious than their parents were. This generation was responsible, though, for shaping the 20th century pop culture and they brought with them television legends, filmmakers, gonzo journalists and political satirists. Interestingly, there are no presidents born in this generation.

Generation X came after the Baby Boomer generation. These individuals were born between 1964 and 1982 (sometimes this is from 1965 through 1979.) No members of this generation served as president. However, this generation is known to have done well. The group collectively learned more than Baby Boomers did when they were the same age. However, only 36 percent of them have more wealth than their parents. That's due to the increased amount of debt held by this generation. By 2028, Generation X will outnumber Baby Boomers. As of 2016, there were between 61.2 million and 65.6 million present in the country.

Why Is the Baby Boomer Generation So Significant?

After 16 long years of depression and war, Americans longed for a time of normalcy. This is what led to the incredible numbers of births in the years following the wars. And, older Americans who had previously put off getting married and having children during the rough years of the Great Depression followed by the war were not able to do so.

One thing that makes this group so interesting is their confidence in the future. After such long battles, this group is known for its positive, confident attitude that the future looked comfortable and prosperous. And, they were accurate for many reasons. During their lifetimes, they watched businesses grow and become profitable. They watched labor unions to help to improve working conditions for people. And, they saw wages rise. They also saw schools become more accessible.

And, perhaps one of the biggest changes to hit Americans happened during their lifetime. People moved to the suburbs. Baby Boomers were able to build their own homes using developers who were now using faster methods to building homes. It was more affordable to buy a home, build a home, and access the funds to do so through the GI Bill. Their homes changed, too. For the first time, there were spaces meant for fun such as “family rooms.”

What Are Some Characteristics of the Baby Boomer Generation?

Baby Boomers were a hard-working generation. And, they value that hard work. Yet, they also have a strong desire to enjoy a higher quality of life. Some of the key characteristics of these individuals include:

  • They valued individual choice.
  • They saw community involvement as necessary and essential.
  • They sought health and wellness in new ways.
  • They were self-actualizing.
  • They wanted and worked hard to earn prosperity.
  • They sought ownership of businesses and homes.
  • They were confident in the tasks they had to do.
  • They worked hard to avoid conflicts and sought a more pleasant way to communicate.
  • They adapted easily to change.
  • They also had a maintained positive attitude throughout their days.
  • Most are very goal oriented, but they also worked well in teams.

This generation also began the movements towards equal rights, and they understood the pressures of failure. Yet, they continued to work hard to achieve the goals they set out.

What's the Difference Between Baby Boomers and Millennials?

Baby Boomers are quite different from Millennials. For example, they are far more conservative and less likely to speak out than Millennials are. Millennials tend to be significantly more progressive on social issues. Whereas Baby Boomers thrived on supporting the whole family unit with a married set of parents, Millennials are less focused on getting married and more likely to support gay marriage. They are also more likely to support the legalization of marijuana and are less likely to be religious.

Other differences in Millennials and Baby Boomers exist. For example, Millennials are less likely to own a home or a vehicle. They instead rely on renting and do not strive to build ownership as readily. On the other hand, Baby Boomers saw home ownership as an important part of a successful life. Millennials are also less likely to be affluent than Baby Boomers. Millennials have significantly more debt as well.

How Many Baby Boomers Will Be Retiring Soon? How Does This Impact the Healthcare System?

There are many differences in Baby Boomers and the world around them, but one thing is clear. This large generation will tax the health care system like none before it. And, while their sheer number will play an important role in that, they will also have different views on what type of care is acceptable to them and for their needs.

For example, many Baby Boomers want to live at home or remain in a residential setting. They do not want to be in nursing homes like their parents. And, this will require more locations for independent and assisted living to become available. This generation is also living longer and, with that, comes the need for improved health care. They also need more long-term support after retirement. Many in this generation are happy to seek out more advanced and cutting-edge medical technology. Overall, Baby Boomers will help to modernize the healthcare industry through their growing needs.

What Senior Living Options Exist for Baby Boomers?

With Baby Boomers beginning to reach into their older years, there has never been a more important time for them to find the senior living options available to them. The good news is there are many options to fill just about any need.

  • Senior living communities allow those over the age of 55 to buy their home or condo within a private, amenity-filled community.
  • Assisted living communities allow seniors to access some of the help they need as they get older while still allowing them to live on their own.
  • Nursing homes are another solution, ideally suited to those who need more help and ongoing medical care.

Of course, many other options in senior living exist as well. From large farms to upscale apartment communities in urban areas, there are plenty of options available to today's senior looking to enjoy a higher quality of life.

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