Coming of Age: 1946-1963
Age in 2004: 59 to 76
Current Population: 41 million (declining)
This generation had significant opportunities in jobs and education as
the War ended and a post-war economic boom struck America. However, the
growth in Cold War tensions, the potential for nuclear war and other
never before seen threats led to levels of discomfort and uncertainty
throughout the generation. Members of this group value security, comfort,
and familiar, known activities and environments.
Boomers I or The Baby Boomers
Coming of Age: 1963-1972
Age in 2004: 50-58
Current Population: 33 million
For a long time the Baby Boomers were defined as those born between 1945
and 1964. That would make the generation huge (71 million) and encompass
people who were 20 years apart in age. It didn’t compute to have
those born in 1964 compared with those born in 1946. Life experiences
were completely different. Attitudes, behaviors and society were vastly
different. In effect, all the elements that help to define a cohort were
violated by the broad span of years originally included in the concept
of the Baby Boomers. The first Boomer segment is bounded by the Kennedy
and Martin Luther King assassinations, the Civil Rights movements and
the Vietnam War. Boomers I were in or protested the War. Boomers 2 or
the Jones Generation missed the whole thing.
Boomers I had good economic opportunities
and were largely optimistic about the potential for America and their
own lives, the Vietnam War notwithstanding.
Boomers II or Generation Jones
Coming of Age: 1973-1983
Age in 2004: 39 to 49
Current Population: 49 million
This first post-Watergate generation lost much of its trust in government
and optimistic views the Boomers I maintained. Economic struggles including
the oil embargo of 1979 reinforced a sense of “I’m out for
me” and narcissism and a focus on self-help and skepticism over
media and institutions is representative of attitudes of this cohort.
While Boomers I had Vietnam, Boomers II had AIDS as part of their rites
The youngest members of the Boomer II generation in fact did not have
the benefits of the Boomer I class as many of the best jobs, opportunities,
housing etc. were taken by the larger and earlier group. Both Gen X and
Boomer II s suffer from this long shadow cast by Boomers I.