The Baby Boomer Effect

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Legacies follow generations affecting others that follow. Some are created by a single event, others built over a lifetime, some overlap one lifetime over another.

How will we be remembered? How will I? Do we have any way of controlling what the legacy may be?

Can we have more than one legacy or is it singular?

Baby Boomers are members of a generation that began in 1946.

“More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.” In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952; and more than 4 million were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally tapered off.” –

It’s no wonder this generation is seen as legacy filled. Shear numbers only begin to explain it. Babies cry and scream for attention when they are hungry or disturbed. The Baby Boomers never stopped screaming. And it worked! Their demands became strong enough to change the direction of the world in many, many ways.

Is there a Baby Boomer Legacy already established? Perhaps the gains in Women’s Rights should be at the top of the list. There is also seriously impressive gains in technology, space exploration, computers, medicine, and agricultural food production reducing worldwide hunger. The 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are recalled in a surprisingly long list of times that made a difference and the interest beyond those decades that has not only continued but been amplified. Many in ways to enhance the discoveries and creations of that 30-year span.

A significance of the legacy determination for the participants of the time is the creation of markers in history, a memory assist perhaps.

Serious consequences of the surge in births beginning in 1946 have been felt for eighty years and will continue beyond the lifetime of the last baby boomer. From the demanding need for infant medical attention to schools and expanded housing and income growth for their parents to current community needs in infrastructure repair or replacement after fifty years of use – causing increases in local taxes and budgets of communities, counties and states.

The population of the United States in 1946 was 141 million. Our population is now over 326 million, an increase of 185 million since the first Baby Boomer was born, well more than double. It is no wonder demands in every imaginable sector has grown steadily and significantly.

The world that Baby Boomers were born into is not the same world they will be leaving at the end of their lives. There are footprints on the moon now for over fifty years. Wars have been fought around the world and many thousands of this generation have died in them, and now their children and grandchildren bear that burden, while attempting to improve on every facet of living in this new world.A world population that has eclipsed 8 billion increases the demands of its citizens and leaders in ways those at the end of WWII could not have expected. Forecasting all of these is an inexact science, but much has been learned. The education continues.

All of this would most likely have occurred without the rapid surge in birth rates between 1946 and 1964, just not at the same speed. The effect has been exciting, frightening, and magical to this generation. My generation.

Greg Henderson is the retired founder of the Southern Oregon Business Journal. A University of Oregon graduate and a six- year U.S. Air Force veteran. 

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