In Australia, Canada, the USA, and the UK, returning soldiers from World War II sparked an increase in birth rates. This increase was so large, that many names have been coined to account for the high rate of births. Even in Russia, the increase launched a name called the Sputnik Generation. In Western Europe, Australia, and North America, the name baby boomer applies to the group of children born between 1946 and 1964.
Actually there’s some debate on the specific dates. People born a year or two before the war ended may still be considered baby boomers. Further, the 18-year spread above is enough to encompass two generations. A baby boomer born in 1946 would be 18 in 1964 and could theoretically have a child also considered a baby boomer. Some people suggest shortening the end time period to 1963, or prior to the 1960s.
Baby boomers have been interesting from a demographic standpoint. They have enjoyed, for the most part, longer life spans than their parents, and made up the Yuppie generation. Boomers born in the 50s were in their thirties during the conspicuous consumer decade of the 1980s. Some baby boomers were instrumental in protesting the Viet Nam war and constitute the hippie generation. Others represent the more conservative views of the war.
Baby boomers have also been called the sandwich generation. They may have simultaneously cared for aging parents and young children at the same time. Primarily they’ve been considered as an interesting demographic. A full 76 million US citizens can call themselves boomers, and people have long understood that this generation will represent a majority of voters in the US in 2015.
From a cultural standpoint, the baby boomer is identified with several important cultural and historical moments or movements:
- First man on the moon
- Birth of Rock and Roll
- Civil Rights Movement
- Women’s Rights Movement
- Protest of the Vietnam War
However the younger group of baby boomers, those born in the mid 1960s, would have been too young to participate in or remember most of these things. Memorable shared experiences of the older baby Boomers include the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and the death of Marin Luther King Jr. Younger baby boomers also mark the scandal of Watergate, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.
While the early baby boomer is often characterized as optimistic and hopeful of change via political channels and participation, the younger group born in the late 50s or early 60s is characterized by political cynicism and rejection of the establishment. Of course, in each group, there are a spectrum of political beliefs, points of view and degrees of pessimism or optimism. Much depends upon the individual baby boomer. Clearly, though, this generation of children will continue to have an impact on politics and daily life in the countries where the baby boom existed.