Just How Influential is the Baby Boom Generation?

Stronger than previously thought;
Boomers have rearranged the traditional stages of life

(Westport, CT)   -It’s been well-documented that the Baby Boomers caused significant changes to the sociological, financial and economic picture in the U.S. over the past 65 years, but a new white paper commissioned by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, written by historian W. Andrew Achenbaum, advances a number of theories about the impact the Boomers have had on American society.

In How Boomers Turned Conventional Wisdom on Its Head: A Historian’s View on How the Future May Judge a Transitional Generation, Dr. Achenbaum notes that those born between 1946 and 1955 changed conventional American life stages, redefined inclusivity and contributed to the health of all Americans. According to the report, they are also the first generation whose impact continues well into middle age and beyond.

Boomers Rearranged the Three Boxes of Life
Instead of going to school, entering the labor force after high school and retiring in their 60’s, Boomers rearranged the traditional life stages. Many went to college, entered the work force a little later and changed jobs a number of times, rather than remaining with one employer. Retirement became phased as people “unretired” and re-entered the work force in encore careers.

Boomers Widened the Range of Inclusivity
Boomers did not necessarily instigate the various struggles for equality over the past six decades, but this generation institutionalized an ethos of inclusivity in U.S. society.

Boomers Advanced Healthfulness – Structurally and Personally
Advances in adult Boomer life expectancy were attributed to medical breakthroughs in heart disease and strokes as well as changed behaviors (smoking cessation, dietary modifications). While obesity and poor nutrition choices still remain an issue, Boomers incorporated preventive care into their life styles with nutrition, exercise and holistic medicine, leading to multi-billion dollar industries.

Spiritual Quests for Meaning Changed Many Boomers’ World Views
Advances in communication and transportation brought the world to Boomers. Many responded by traveling to remote sites like Africa and Southeast Asia to make a difference, while others preferred the comforts of home. Boomers managed to be cosmopolitan and parochial, simultaneously. Personal and collective searches for “meaning” reinforced values and norms that segments in this age group started to embrace in youth.

"Not content with living their parents' lives, Boomers pursued education, a multi-faceted work-life and a robust retirement,"

“Not content with living their parents’ lives, Boomers pursued education, a multi-faceted work-life and a robust retirement,” said Dr. Achenbaum. “Most Boomers exercised considerable independence in their life choices. They helped to ensure that freedoms applied to African Americans, women, new immigrants and gays, not just middle-class white males.”

“Perhaps the most lasting legacy of the Boomers, the first of whom are now 65-years old, is that they continue to be relevant, making a contribution and remaining trendsetters” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

How Boomers Turned Conventional Wisdom on Its Head: A Historian’s View on How the Future May Judge a Transitional Generation can be downloaded from www.MatureMarketInstitute.com.

W. Andrew Achenbaum
W. Andrew Achenbaum (b. 1947), a professor of history and social work, holds the Gerson and Sabina David Professorship of Global Aging at the University of Houston. He has written five books, including Older Americans, Vital Communities (Johns Hopkins, 2007) and co-edited a dozen more. Professor Achenbaum earned his B.A. at Amherst, M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, where he spent more than a dozen years as a professor of history and deputy director of its Institute of Gerontology.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute
Celebrating its 15-year anniversary in 2012, the MetLife Mature Market Institute is Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s (MetLife) center of expertise in aging, longevity and the generations and is a recognized thought leader by business, the media, opinion leaders and the public. The Institute’s groundbreaking research, insights, strategic partnerships and consumer education expand the knowledge and choices for those in, approaching or working with the mature market.

The Institute supports MetLife’s long-standing commitment to identifying emerging issues and innovative solutions for the challenges of life. MetLife, Inc. is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers in over 50 countries. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, please visit:  www.MatureMarketInstitute.com.