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Baby Boomers

The Boomer Lifestyle

Low fertility is not the only characteristic that differentiates the baby boomers from their parents' cohort. Female labor force participation soared among the boomers, and young women began moving into previously male-dominated professions, while marriage rates declined precipitously and cohabitation and divorce rates increased dramatically. Age-specific crime rates and drug use among young males soared as baby boomers passed through the fifteen to twenty-four age group. Some social scientists believe that these changes were demographic adjustments made primarily in response to low relative income. And although average male earnings fell for baby boomers—especially in relative terms— the term yuppie (young urban professional) was coined to describe the high-consumption, lowsavings lifestyle of many boomers.

The baby boomers were the first generation of children and teenagers with significant spending power, and that, combined with their numbers, fueled the growth of massive marketing campaigns and the introduction of new products—and new terminology, such as "pop group" and "hippie"—targeted at the boomers' current stage in the life cycle. Fashion followed the boomers' needs—from the mini-skirt and bellbottoms to "relaxed fit" jeans. Even fringe commercial enterprises benefitted, as, for example, the nation began wearing army surplus clothing, and drug use spread, some say as a result of the boomers' heavy participation in the Vietnam War. (At the war's peak during the 1968–1970 period, 31 percent of boomer males twenty to twenty-one years old were serving in the military.)

Overcrowded schools introduced "porta-cabin" classrooms and half-day sessions when the boomers were young, and later the day-care industry emerged to accommodate boomers who chose to combine career and parenthood. The country's identity seemed shaped by the boomers, from the "youth culture" in the 1960s and 1970s to the "greying of America" in the early twenty-first century. The evolution of the automobile provides a prime example of the boomers' life-cycle impact. Station wagons became the vogue in the 1950s in response to the needs of boomers' parents. Those vehicles mutated into minivans to accommodate "yuppie" boomers in their thirties and forties and then into sport utility vehicles for boomers who had become so-called empty nesters, many going through "midlife crisis." The next stage in this progression is a car/van that accommodates devices for the disabled, in anticipation of baby boomers in old age.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 1Baby Boomers - What Caused The Baby Boom?, The Boomer Lifestyle, Boomers In Retirement