New Year’s Brings Last Boomer

| January 6, 2015 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post
New Year 2015 Last Baby Boomer

New Year 2015 Last Baby Boomer

When Doreen O’Brien celebrates her 50th birthday on New Year’s Eve, the ball will drop on an era in America.

As one of the last baby boomers to cross the threshold into official old age, O’Brien brings up the statistical rear of the nation’s postwar spike in fertility, which lasted from 1946 to 1964.

“It’s a different world than when my grandparents were 50 — because when you turned 62, you were done,” said O’Brien, a Minneapolis financial consultant and mother of two. “Now, you can be engaged as long as you’re able. Fifty is the new 40.”

The story of the tail of the boom is still being written. O’Brien celebrates this milestone birthday at a time when people are living longer and putting off retirement, either by choice or necessity.

Unlike the first wave, which began hitting retirement age by the tens of thousands in 2011, many of the younger group are in good health, raising families and still in line for top jobs. Even if their retirement savings aren’t the greatest, they potentially have time to make it up.

Though they grew up in the shadow of the first wave of boomers, far more children were born during the second half of the boom than the first.

“This age group of 50-year-olds is important just because of their sheer size,” said state demographer Susan Brower, who noted that there are more Minnesotans in their 50s than any other age group. “For the state, the implications hinge on what the younger baby boomers do as they move into retirement ages.”

The question of whether the current crop of 50-year-olds should even be lumped into the baby boom generation is a live one.

The nearly two-decade span of the baby boom generation (so named in a 1964 Washington Post story) was defined by census trackers based on birthrate.

The younger set’s political, social and economic reference points are radically different from those of the war protesting, civil-rights marching, flower-power espousing children of the 1960s. This group was shaped by Nixon’s resignation, video games, punk rock and AIDS.

The boomer ‘litmus test’: Last Boomer

O’Brien’s world was rocked by the Iranian hostage crisis when she was in high school in the early 1980s. She grew up playing “Pong” and went to college when it was affordable. The Beatles released their first U.S. album the year she was born. Her musical touchstones center more on big-hair bands and MTV, and she vividly remembers her first concert, the Bay City Rollers at Orchestra Hall.

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