Last Baby Boomers Turns 50

| December 18, 2014 | 1 Comment | Email This Post Email This Post
Last Baby Boomer Turns 50

Last Baby Boomer Turns 50

Carlos Barientos III was born at 6.45 on the evening of Dec 31, 1964, a few miles northwest of Honolulu. This year, he will turn 50, quite possibly making him the last member of the US “baby boom” to do so.

The generation that once seemed to define for the world the energy, excitement and even irritating nature of youth will officially be “old” — even if, some might say, not entirely grown up. But what does this really mean?

The baby boomers are the generation that grew up in the United States, in particular, but also in Europe, Canada, Australia and elsewhere, after World War II, when rapid economic growth was accompanied by rising birth rates. Those born during that 19-year period — from 1945 to 1964 — were part of the largest, most prosperous, best-educated, and, some might say, most indulged and indulgent generation that the world has ever seen.

From sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll to the civil rights movements to the dot-com and housing bubbles, for better or worse, the boomer generation has shaped modern society. And with one of its younger members currently in the White House, and others at Downing Street, the Élysée Palace and the German Chancellery, it will continue to do so for years to come.

But there are stark differences within the boomer generation. Early boomers — beginning with Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, whose birth one second past midnight on New Year’s Day, 1946, has made her a minor celebrity — grew up surrounded by the hippie counterculture, the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, and the Vietnam War.

By contrast, Mr Barientos and the other boomers of 1964 grew up playing video games and listening to disco music — or, if their tastes were closer to those of Mr Barientos, the heavier sounds of Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy and Van Halen. In fact, Mr Barientos, who owns and run his own guitar shop with his father, does not readily identify himself as a baby boomer; he feels closer to the “Generation X” that followed.

But Mr Barientos’s interests are not all that set him apart from the likes of Ms Casey-Kirschling. While many of the early US baby boomers are now comfortably retired, enjoying the benefits of Medicare, Social Security and tax-free Roth IRA disbursements, Mr Barientos is still in his prime and concerned about his retirement. By 2031, when Mr Barientos and the rest of the baby boomers are retired,more than 20% of the US population will be at least 65 years old, compared with only 13% in 2010.

As a result, the old-age dependency ratio (the number of people aged 65 or over relative to the working-age population) is set to rise from 1:5 to 1:3. This will intensify pressure on state pension funds and health-care systems considerably.

As a result, the old-age dependency ratio (the number of people aged 65 or over relative to the working-age population) is set to rise from 1:5 to 1:3. This will intensify pressure on state pension funds and health-care systems considerably.

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