Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers

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During the Great Depression the marriage rate fell as uncertainty over economic conditions caused people to postpone decisions that would significantly affect their lives. Birthrates also dropped: pessimism shrouded Americans' expectations of a promising future for themselves and their children. After World War II ended, however, prospects seemed considerably brighter. Young Americans returned home from war in 1945 ready to reap the benefits of victory and a prospering economy. Accordingly, there were almost 2.3 million marriages in 1946, an increase of more than six hundred thousand over the previous year. Many of these newlyweds had children within a year: a record 3.8 million babies were born in 1947. This was the first year of the baby boom, which lasted for most of the 1950s. Between 1948 and 1953 more babies were born than had been over the previous thirty years. In 1954 a record birthrate, a low death rate, and an influx of 144,000 immigrants created the largest one-year population gain in U.S. history. (Thomson Gale)
In the United States, the term Baby Boomers commonly applied to people with birth years after World War II and before the Vietnam War. A large part of the cause of the Baby Boom was an after effect of World War II where the bombed out cities and fractured economies increased the needs for goods and services in unprecedented peacetime amounts. America cranked up the exports and supplied the "free world" with goods to rebuild its own economies. Furthermore, in the U.S. the G.I. Bill enabled record numbers of individuals to attend college and obtain, perhaps in most cases, the second college degree in their extended families. This led to an increase in education and granted higher incomes to families allowing them the resources to produce more children. (Wikipedia)
Experts were divided as to the potential effects of the baby boom. During the 1950s economists frequently pointed to the growing population as a safeguard against economic stagnation. Each new birth represented new demands for food, clothing, and toys. Babies were the potential market for eight hundred dollars in products in their first year. Toy sales that year reached $1.25 billion, and diaper services were a $50-million business. The American Seating Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a major supplier of school furniture, tripled its business in the thirteen years following the end of World War II. Clearly, each little bundle of joy was also a blessing to American businessmen.

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Educators warned of coming teacher and classroom shortages--crowded schools overwhelmed the educational system throughout the decade. Greater amounts of public money were needed for education, health care, and other social services. (Thomson Gale)
Today there are about three young people for every senior. By 2020, the ratio will be even more frightening. This will have profound consequences on our entire society. Demographic changes will have a major impact on the ratio of retirees to workers; the ratio of the number of people ages 65 and over to the number ages 20 to 64 is expected to grow from about 20% in 1997 to 41% in 2050. With so few people of working age, it is expected that wages will rise as employers fight to retain the small pool of labor available. This also implies that unemployment should be fairly low. However taxes will also have to be quite high to pay for all the services that seniors require such as government pensions and Medicare. Older citizens tend to invest differently than younger ones, as older investors tend to buy less risky assets like bonds and sell riskier ones such as stocks. Do not be surprised to find that the price of bonds rises (causing their yields to fall) and the price of stocks to fall. (Mike Moffatt)
The effects of the Baby Boom are still moving through our society. When those children were of school age, public schools struggled with record attendance levels. Later, those children all vied for jobs during the 1970s and 1980s. And in the 21st century, the earliest Baby Boomers are retiring. As they require increased health care and begin drawing Social Security, their large numbers will mean new changes in American society. (Coming of Age) There will be millions of smaller changes as well. The demand for soccer fields should fall as there are relatively fewer people will the demand for golf courses should rise. The demand for large suburban homes should fall as seniors move into one story condos and later to old-age homes. (Mike Moffatt)
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