- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Baby boomers are not a bunch of annoying, self-absorbed, aging hippies with too much money and a penchant to call attention to themselves.


So says a report released yesterday by AARP meant to dispel persistent “boomer myths” about the 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.

“The label of being self-centered is grossly exaggerated. It’s very convenient to lump boomers together as a monolith, and this really misses the mark. This generation is really very diverse,” said AARP spokesman Anthony DeLuise.

“The important thing is that boomers are redefining age, making retirement obsolete, starting new careers and giving back to the world,” he said.

Such talk exacerbates a growing boomer fatigue.

A distinct geezer dread has set in among those who fear that the unwieldy Me Generation will deplete Social Security funds and overwhelm the health care system. “Leading edge” boomers turning 65 in three years, prompting the National Academy of Science to warn yesterday that meeting their geriatric needs was an “impending crisis.”

The culture, meanwhile, has become too boomer heavy for comfort.

“They don’t want to go quietly. Boomers have a lot of money, make a lot of noise and aren’t looking for the early-bird special. They’re a lot of them, and they’re used to having their way. So how do we retire them? I don’t have the answer to that yet,” said Jeff Taylor, a writer for Reason magazine, who has explored the phenomenon of collective boomer annoyance in several essays.

“They just won’t get out of the limelight. We read and hear about them constantly, and there’s always some new re-tread of the ‘Summer of Love’ they inflict on us. Dennis Hopper has traded ‘Easy Rider’ to be a spokesman for retirement funds. Is he not ashamed?” said Jeff Gordinier, an editor at Details magazine and the author of “X Saves the World.”

Released in March, the book offers evidence that Generation X has much cultural significance of its own

“If you grow up in the shadow of boomer nostalgia, it’s just plain boring. But boomer nostalgia also sells. Now the 40th anniversary of Woodstock is coming up next year, so brace yourself,” Mr. Gordinier added.

The AARP version of boomer life retains the old tie-dyed ideals, but downplays the idea that the demographic is a greedy, boorish bunch.

The study, which surveyed more than 17,000 baby boomers, found that 70 percent said they had a “responsibility to make the world a better place.” Only 9 percent qualify as truly “affluent,” with incomes of more than $150,000; one-quarter of them have no savings or investments, while just one-fifth own their own homes outright.

Far from carefree, 37 percent still have children under 18 living at home, while only 11 percent plan to stop working entirely at 65. Vanity still resonates, though — 68 percent said it was important to “remain attractive to the opposite sex,” the survey found.

“The Me Generation is portrayed as very self-centered. We found just the opposite. They are generation who want to help and give back,” Mr. DeLuise said.


Myths about baby boomers persist, according to research from the AARP. The organization hopes to dispel certain ideas about the 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Among the myths, followed by statistical realities:

They’re all rich: Only 9 percent are affluent, having pretax annual incomes of more than $150,000; one-quarter have no savings or investments.

They are retiring early: Just 11 percent plan to stop working entirely at 65.

They are downsizing: Only 6 percent plan to be living in a smaller residence by 2013.

Most are married empty nesters: A third are single; 25 percent are married with adult children; 37 percent still have children at home.

Boomers are winding down with age: They participate regularly in an average 10 “activities”; 60 million travel; 22 million attend live sports events.

Boomers are technologically challenged: 82 percent are online for e-mail, movies, finances and gaming.

Source: AARP

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