Who Are the Baby Boomers?

Boom Generation Changes the Face of Grandparenting

Baby boomer grandparents
Photo © Sam Edwards | Getty Images

The term baby boomers is commonly used to refer to Americans born post-WWII until mid-1960s. Most demographers consider 1945-1964 as the baby boomer year span. Approximately 76 million Americans were born during those years. In a more general sense, a baby boom is any sudden, substantial and sustained increase in the birthrate. 

American boomers are sometimes referred to as the baby boom generation, although a parent and his or her child could both have birthdates in the 1945-1964 window.

Many members of the baby boom generation are now grandparents.

Early and Late Boomers

Persons born in the first half of the time span, approximately 1945-1955, are sometimes known as early boomers. Those born after 1955 are sometimes called late boomers. Many observers have noted that the baby boom generation is far from monolithic. Indeed there are significant differences between the early boomers and the late boomers, especially those late boomers born in the 1960s.

Boomers have witnessed many historic events, including the civil rights movement leading to the desegregation of public schools, the rise of feminism and the Vietnam War with its accompanying anti-war movement. They were the first to grow up with television a part of their daily lives. 

Bill Clinton, born in 1946, was the first boomer president. His successor, George W. Bush, was born in the same year. His successor, Barack Obama, is still a boomer, although a late one, being born in 1961.

The Grandparent Boom

Since the average age of becoming a grandparent is around 47, even the youngest members of the baby boom generation are old enough to be grandparents, turning the baby boom into the grandparent boom. Generally baby boomers make active and involved grandparents.

Early boomers grew up in a time of prosperity and easily surpassed the earning power and net worth of their parents.

They saw airfare become affordable, enabling many to travel extensively. Many of them enjoy multigenerational travel and especially enjoy traveling with grandchildren, both with and without the parents. Many have had the knowledge and the tools to stay physically fit and healthy, enabling them to be physically active with their grandchildren.

Late boomers generally have faced a tougher economic situation, and many are still working. Still, many manage to spend a lot of time with their grandchildren. They also tend to enjoy travel, and many are very tech-savvy, a trait that they are likely to share with grandchildren. 

Looking for a Great-Grandparent Boom

Demographers have predicted a similar boom in great-grandparents. By the year 2030, many of the baby boom generation will have reached an age at which great-grandparenthood is likely. The aging of the boom generation plus the increase in life span means many children will have the privilege of knowing their great-grandparents. According to one estimate, 70 percent of 8-year-olds will have a living great-grandparent in 2030.

Milennials Outnumber Boomers

As large and influential as the baby boom generation is, they have been surpassed in number by the millennials.

Defining millennials as those born between 1982 and 2000, the Census Bureau pegged their numbers in 2015 at over 83 million, whereas the number of boomers has fallen to around 75 million. The 75 million boomers include many immigrants. Of the original 75 million born in the United States from 1945-1964, only about 65 million were alive in 2012. 

Baby boomers are beginning to face the challenges of aging and mortality. By 2030, when boomers will be 66 to 84 years old, their number is projected to drop to less than 60 million. By the year 2060, only 2.4 million baby boomers are expected to be alive.