Monday, July 14, 2008

Gloomy Boomers?

"[B]oomers used to be gloomy because the world needed change. Now they're gloomy because change didn't work out quite as they hoped."

Monica Hesse, "Baby Boomers Got the Blues: Looking at Life Through Morose-Colored Glasses," Washington Post, July 10, 2008

This anti-boomer selectively mines a recent Pew Report, Baby Boomers: The Gloomiest Generation, to argue that we (i.e. boomers) have been a collective bunch of whiners throughout our generation's journey.

Looking at the data, as always, gives pause and makes you wonder whether generational studies and frameworks are worth much. On rating quality of life, Boomers (43-62) give it a 6.2 on a scale of 10 compared to Younger Adults (X, Y, and Next), 6.5, and a whopping 6.7 for Older Adults (63+). Looks to me like were all sort of okay with things.

But I agree, boomers see more economic and financial difficulties ahead. Call that depressed, prescient, or more likely to listen to the news. Yet older folks say that they believe that things will be worse for their kids.

And now the real problem. Younger Boomers (43-52) and Older Boomers (53-62) differ dramatically on these quality of life questions. Younger boomers being a much more optimistic lot. This seems quite obvious if, as an older boomer, you had a younger sibling.

Leave it to the social science to get to the core truth of things:

"Boomers are a big, complicated generation, but one thing can be said about them without fear of contradiction: They are no longer young."

But the times are a changing -- I hope!

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