Editorial

Baby boomer impact more than softball

Monday, January 30, 2006

We overheard a conversation recently that went something like this:

"There used to be more adult softball teams, but then the baby boomers moved on."

An astute observation, and one that could be applied to societal activities of all kinds.

Some pretty famous and influential boomers are on the leading edge, turning 60 in 2006. They include none other than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Cher, Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton.

In fact, the baby boom generation has been the tail that has wagged the population dog since it was born between 1946 and 1964.

Fads, trends and businesses rose and fell in response to the pressures applied boomers as they moved through the various stages of life.

The trend will continue as the first of the baby boomers hit 60, and figures released by the Census Bureau should be cause for concern as we consider the consequences.

There were an estimated 78.2 million baby boomers last July 1, and 7,918 people are turning 60 each day this year, according to Census Bureau projections, or 330 every hour.

James and Mary were the most popular baby names for boys and girls at the start of the baby boom in 1946, but they've dropped to 17 and 63, respectively, compared to today's leaders, Jacob and Emily.

Nearly a third of Alaska's population, 32 percent, can be called part of the baby boom generation, as well as 30 percent or more of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. In Utah, however, only 23 percent of the population was comprised of boomers, the only state with less than 25 percent.

In 1946, the U.S. population was 141 million, compared to about 298 million today.

While 33 percent of adults age 25 and older had at least a high school diploma in 1947 and 5 percent had at least a bachelor's degree, today those proportions has risen to 85 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Today, people ages 45 to 54 spent an average of $2,695 per year on health care, but they should enjoy it while they can. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those age 55 to 64 spend $3,262 and those 65 and over, $3,899.

By 2030, there will be a projected 57.8 million baby boomers living, 54.9 percent of them female, all of them between 66 and 84 years of age.

How will they all be cared for? It won't be easy, according to the Social Security Administration.

Today, there are 3.3 workers for each Social Security beneficiary. By 2031, when all baby boomers will be over 65, there will be only 2.1 workers for each beneficiary.

Fewer softball teams?

Maybe, but that's just a start.

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