When the first baby boomer turned 40 on January 1, 1986, it changed the way Americans thought about themselves. How could a "baby boomer" be middle-aged? This country's passionate affair with youth was over.
The middle-aging of the baby boom was inevitable. Equally inevitable are the changes that the middle-aging of the baby boom will force on the American culture. The last time the country's mood changed so dramatically was in the 1950s, when children and teenagers seized power. For 30 years the young ruled American life. Now that era is over. The middle-aged will wield power for the next 20 years.