Myths About Boomers

April 13th

When it comes to generational studies and categorization, there are varying opinions regarding the characteristics of each. Baby Boomers, born between 1946–1964, are best known for the term after they were named — the post WWII era noted with a significant increase in birth rate. In 2016, the oldest Boomer is 70 and the youngest is 52. Those twenty years apart lend to different life stages and lifestyles. Given, that it is difficult to categorize this cohort into having the same characteristics. With time allowed to study this group, several myths and assumptions have developed as evidenced in an article from The Washington Post from late last year.

Myth #1 — Boomers are bad with technology

Having not grown up with technology all around them as digital natives, it is assumed that Baby Boomers are not technology-savvy and are slower to adopt new skills and devices. This just isn’t the case, however. This group has integrated new technology into their lives in places like banking, shopping, house-hunting. The list goes on. In addition, they have not shied away from social media. Seven out of ten Boomers have a Facebook account and they are the fastest-growing user segment.

Myth #2 — They are all wealthy

Many Boomers are either retired or getting close to retirement, but some are challenged to buy those vacation homes. For many empty-nesters, they are beginning to downsize due to the desire to simplify, but also because some of them are paying for college tuition for their kids and healthcare for their aging parents.

Myth #3 — Baby Boomers are healthier than their parents

With medical advancements and improved health screenings in the past century, it would make sense that the younger generations would continue to get healthier. However, a 2013 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that Boomers had more disabilities and chronic diseases than their parents at the same age. This is due to higher rates of obesity, less exercising, and higher rates of hypertension and high cholesterol.

Myth #4 — Empty nesters are less active than Xer’s and Millennials

After the kids have left the nest and retirement is around the corner, the perception about Boomers is that they are slowing down. However, a study from Eventbrite shows that Boomers crave connection and they achieve that through attending events. Not only can they connect with their own generation, but at least 38% of Baby Boomers like social events because they can connect with younger generations. This cohort attends food and drink festivals (3.3 per year), endurance events such as races (4.5 per year), and even beat out Millennials for concerts attended per year (3.8 compared to 3.6).

Although we try to fit each generation into a specific silo, it is impossible to generalize an age group that spans two decades. Sure they have fundamental differences from the younger generations, but they also have many similarities. Looking at Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials in this way can assist in further understanding of their wants and needs.

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