The Impact of Baby Boomers on Consumer Culture

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Why have baby boomers had such an impact on consumer culture?

When World War II (1939-45) ended, Americans had endured fifteen years of economic depression and war. After the war and economic prosperity restored, they no longer had to wait. By 1946, the “baby boom” was on, more and more babies were born than ever before. Because of their sheer number, baby boomers, those people born between 1946 and 1964 (when the birth rate leveled off), are a generation that has had a great impact on American life and culture. It also created the “consumer culture” phenomenon.

Between 1946 and 1964, seventy-eight million babies were born in the United States alone. As these children grew up, their numbers created unique problems. A few of these problems include lack of hospital facilities to cater to their growing population. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, nurses, doctors, and hospitals had to deal with overcrowding since a number of women gave birth simultaneously.

In the 1950s, as these kids were about to go to school, another problem arose. This time it was the lack of school facilities. There were not only insufficient school classrooms but also lack of teachers was apparent to meet the demand. In the 1960s and early 1970s, these children caused similar problems for college and universities.

After college, as the students went out to search for jobs, there was a growing pressure on the job market. And finally when baby boomers begin to retire in the year 2010, facilities for the elderly could be insufficient, also services for the elderly such as health care and Social Security. At every stage of their lives, the baby-boom generation has produced unique problems because of its sheer size.

Of course with the problems came the accompanying opportunities. When the baby boomers were young, their numbers create several business possibilities. All these new kids needed things such diapers and toys at first, then school buildings and clothes, records and cars later, and all kinds of products that came with a booming economy. For twenty-five years after World War II, the United States saw great economic prosperity. With the economy on the rise, most of the baby boomers grew up in material comfort, much more so than their parents had experienced having gone through the Depression and World War II.

The baby boom created huge demand for housing, which helped create the many new suburban communities that sprung up after 1945. The baby boomers spurred the growth of what is called “consumer culture” and especially “youth culture.” Because many baby boomers were economically comfortable as they grew up, they had money to be able to acquire luxuries.

To reduce the impact of baby boomers on society over the next twenty years it is important for the current generation to anticipate their needs such as healthcare services, facilities that are elderly-friendly, environment conducive to their health and others. As the baby boomers approach the age of retirement, steps should be taken that these needs will be addressed sufficiently before it could create problems to the economy. At whatever stage of their lives, the baby-boom generation has proved to be a powerful force in American political, social, and cultural life.


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