Baby boomers are the largest generation in U.S. history, and have had a profound effect on many of the country's political, economic, and cultural trends. Many boomers reached young adulthood during the 1960s and contributed to and were affected by the period's antiauthoritarian and alternative hallmarks, such as political and social activism and rock music. Boomers also are united by such factors as television (they were the first generation to grow up with the medium) and consumerism (they have tended to be voracious commercial consumers). Many baby boomers have struggled to achieve the standard of living enjoyed by their parents because the large size of their cohort has tended to diminish economic opportunity, but the generation as a whole is the richest in American history. In the 21st cent. aging baby boomers are expected to present a significant challenge to the U.S. healthcare industry, Medicare, and social security.
See P. C. Light, Baby Boomers (1990), N. A. Hamilton et al., Atlas of the Baby Boom Generation (2000), S. Gillon, Boomer Nation (2004); J. Goldsmith, The Long Baby Boom (2008)
The term baby boom most often refers to the dramatic post-World War II baby boom (notice the rate of change on the chart below). There are an estimated 78.2 million Americans in that generation. However, the term remains a general demographic one and is also applicable to other similar population expansions.
Recent baby boom periods include: