Baby Boom: People and Perspectives

Baby Boom: People and Perspectives

Baby Boom: People and Perspectives

Baby Boom: People and Perspectives


This engaging collection of essays explores the many ways Americans of every race, class, gender, and political leaning experienced the Baby Boom.

• Separate chapter of primary documents offering insight into the thoughts and experiences of everyday Americans, including excerpts from Dr. Benjamin Spock's The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, magazine advertisements, and major social movements of the 1960s

• A comprehensive chronology of events during the Baby Boom, tracing the generation from 1945 to the present

• Testimonies and oral histories from individuals of the Baby Boom generation


No other demographic event in U.S. history—save perhaps for the staggering death toll of the Civil War—has had greater significance than the Baby Boom. Between 1946 and 1964, more than 75 million babies were born in the United States; 4 million were born each year between 1954 and 1964, with a peak of 4.3 million in 1957, or one birth every seven seconds. Between 1950 and 1960, the nation’s population increased from 153 million to 170 million, the greatest one-decade increase ever. While the population increase itself was significant, the Baby Boom’s greatest impact was on American culture and the economy. At every stage of life—from birth to school to work to retirement—the Baby Boom generation has left, and continues to leave, its mark on American society (Gillon 2004, 1).

The Baby Boom fostered the spread of suburbanization in the United States, contributing directly to significant increases in construction for houses and schools. By virtue of sheer numbers, the Baby Boom fostered the emergence of a unique youth culture and made this generation a cultural and economic force. Teenagers, a new age cohort, were potent consumers, spending billions of dollars annually by 1960; Corporate America took notice, and soon targeted them in advertising, especially through the new medium of television. Rock-and-roll music, movies, and coonskin caps illustrate the consumptive power of the Baby Boom generation and its ubiquitous impact on popular culture.

The emergence of this youth culture created generational tensions never before experienced in the United States. In the 1960s, the Baby Boom generation began straining the resources of the nation’s colleges and universities, helping to spur an unprecedented growth in American higher education. It was the Baby Boom generation, too, that abetted the social and cultural movements of the 1960s, which transformed the nation—for better or worse—in numerous ways. In short, the Baby Boom deeply affected the lives of all Americans, in ways sometimes obvious, and others sublime. Americans experienced these changes differently, as they . . .

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