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Friday, July 25, 2008

Grumpy old Baby Boomers - official

Today is a good day. Today I know I am not alone. Today I can have a good moan in the safe knowledge that it is all a result of my birth year not an abundance of the misery hormone.

Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project has just published a report that finds US baby boomers are a bunch of miserable old sods. To be honest it doesn’t say it that directly but that is the implication.

Why should this be?

One explanation is that it results from there being so many of them. I guess it is a bit like the way rats get aggressive when you crowd them together.

Have a read of the report and then look at this article from the Washington Post. Mary Furlong was the unlucky one who attempted to explain the results to the reporter. Mary thought it was all to do with the “sandwich generation” effect (i.e. simultaneously dealing with kids and parents). The reporter wasn’t buying that one and came with some research showing boomers have always been miseries, even in their youth.

We all know that any generation, defined by the age range 43 – 62, is next to useless. For part of the research Pew split the boomers into two groups (43 – 52 and 53 – 62) and found that the older group were the real pain in the butts. The younger group were much more like their kids.

So what is it about the 53-62 year olds that makes them miserable? Before jumping to conclusions have a look at the research and you will find the difference between the groups is relatively small. Also, the total sample size, for all the ages was only 2,400.
My bet is that you will find a massive difference in the results by socio-economic group. It would be more interesting (at least to me) to see the similarities/differences across the age groups by lifestyle segment.

So what am I really saying? Any analysis, or press reporting, that tries to derive the “reason why conclusions”, about the mindset of 76 million people, is going to dish out some simplistic generalisations. The report is good fun to read and to speculate about but not much tactical use for marketers. Dick Stroud

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