Not Your Mother’s Old Age: Baby Boomers at Age 65
by Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D.
The Gerontologist (2012) 52 (2):149-152
“Nearly 79 million people now living in the United States were born between 1946 and 1964 (Haaga, 2002). In 2011, the first of the Baby Boom cohort reached age 65, and for the next 17 years, close to 10,000 people a day will celebrate their 65th birthday. The generation raised according to Dr. Spock, the generation whose motto once was ‘trust no one over 30,’ now find themselves knocking at Medicare’s door. Baby Boomers redefined each stage of life as they experienced it, modifying fashion design and hair length as well as key societal institutions. They questioned the underlying values and attitudes of society. They influenced education, music, race relations, sex roles, and child rearing. They are about to change what we know about old age.
The Baby Boom generation is significant for its size as well as its distinct social and demographic characteristics. Baby Boomers are more highly educated, more likely to occupy professional and managerial positions, and more racially and ethnically diverse than their predecessors (Frey, 2010). They have higher rates of separation and divorce, lower rates of marriage, and gave birth to fewer children (Hughes & O’Rand, 2004). On average, they are healthier and have longer life expectancies at age 65 (Freedman, Martin, & Schoeni, 2002; Manton, 2008). They have had more varied work histories, longer transitions out of the labor force, and work for more of their adult years (Quinn, 2010) than previous generations.”