Understanding The Baby Boomer Phenomenon In Demographic Terms

by Diane M. Hoffmann, CPCA

The Baby-boomer generation is well known because of its significant influence on the economy and large numbers that make up close to a third of the Canadian population.

Although the Baby-boomer cohort is known to be the generation born between a twenty-year span from 1947 and 1966, it is often confused by the lack of recognition that there are two important sub-groups within that time span.

These sub-groups are known as the “front-end” boomers who were born from 1947 to the mid 1950’s and “back-end” boomers born from the mid 1950’s to 1966.

The other confusion takes place at the “back-end” sub-group where the writers of the media often mix-up Generation-X with the "Baby-bust" generation that came after it -- thinking that Generation-X are the children of the boomers.

However, this is not the case. Most boomers were not old enough to have children when Gen-X came along. Generation-X is the "back-end" of the same cohort.

It is also helpful to understand the major differences between these two sub-groups in order to be fair to the back-end group who did not have it as well as the front-end for reasons beyond their control.

The front-end boomers did well as they entered the workforce over the 1960's. Opportunities were created for them by a growing economy and by the younger baby-boomers entering in the 70's and 80's which in turn created new needs in products, services, government programs, universities and endless expansion.

Because the front-end boomers got there first, they got the good jobs in both the public and private sectors. As the leading edge, they understood the needs of the baby boomers.

However the back-end boomers had it tougher. Unlike their front-end peers, they were less positioned to profit from that knowledge and expansion when they entered the workforce.

Generally, these folks just barely managed to get a house which crashed in value in the first part of the 90's, as the peak of the boom swept through its purchasing years. They were in careers but going nowhere, because the older boomers, still going strong for the next 15 to 20 years before retirement, clogged up the rungs ahead of them.

By the time they entered the labour market, the millions of front-enders who preceded them had already driven up the rent and house prices, and claimed all the best jobs and opportunities. As if this wasn't enough, back-enders were now also facing a recession that gripped the Canadian economy and made job opportunities virtually nil. By the time recovery finally began to create new demand for workers, the Gen-Xers were told they were either too old for entry-level jobs or not experienced enough for the more senior level positions. No wonder the 30-year olds were still living at home in the mid 90's.

To add to this, back-end boomers had the extra load of having to face their worst element yet -- coping with their parents who were from the Depression generation. These were the folks sitting at the top of the corporate ladder who were approaching the end of highly successful careers and unable to grasp the reason why their offsprings were still living at home. The tension was in the fathers placing their successes on their own merits while seeing their sons' failures as the result of a lack of drive and ambition. (Information gleaned from the book “Boom, Bust & Echo”, David K. Foot and Daniel Stoffman). /end.

Diane M. Hoffmann, CPCA, is a self-employed business entrepreneur of many years who recently re-invented her business to the total service of the senior community. Her web site provides much information for the 50+ Boomers, Seniors and Caregivers.

(You may reprint this article without any changes and making sure to include this bio).


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