Like it or not, the post-war Baby Boom generation makes up over a quarter of the American population. So what Boomers think about, what we aspire to do and what we want to buy, all make a big difference in the American economy and the social trends that shape our lives.
So I did a little research and isolated ten issues that Baby Boomers are focused on in 2015. If you're a Baby Boomer you may not be concerned with all these items; but my guess is that at least a couple of them will speak to you:
1. We want a smaller but nicer house. In the 1980s and '90s, Baby Boomers flocked to the suburbs to raise their families. Now the kids are grown, so Boomers are getting ready to trade in their three-or-four-bedroom home for a two-bedroom bungalow with little or no yard. Some may want the charm of an old neighborhood, but most are more interested in modern conveniences and minimal maintenance.
2. And long to live in a city. Baby Boomers are tired of driving to work, the mall, and the kids' soccer games. By and large we Boomers want to move into more urban areas – but ones that are clean, crime-free and less costly. So goodbye New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles. Hello Portland, Maine, Savannah, Georgia, Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon.
3. We do not want to share their homes. A website called The Street says that despite some reports of a trend toward home sharing – a la "The Golden Girls" – Baby Boomers are not particularly interested in group living. The U. S. Census Bureau confirms that notion, reporting that less than 2 percent of Baby Boomers live in group quarters. Instead, with the kids finally gone, we want to enjoy the freedom of living in our own space in our own way. Most of us want to feather their own nests, not move to a modern-day commune.
4. But we do want to keep working. The Street also says that Boomers don't want to retire. Some 28 percent of Boomers claim they will never retire. And 46 percent say they want to downsize their careers but keep working part time in a less stressful job. This desire to keep at least one foot in the workplace is partly driven by economic factors, but also by the prospects for living longer, healthier lives.
5. We want to travel. And not just to grandma's house. Many of the more affluent Boomers feel the pull of "name brand" destinations like Stonehenge, the Great Wall, Machu Picchu and the Pyramids. They also want to gaze at the natural wonders before acid rain or the rising tides destroy them – Venice, the Great Barrier Reef, the rain forests, and the Arctic.
6. We want to stay healthy. Many Boomers flock to the health club and jump into other healthful activities. Even more stand in line at Whole Foods and other natural-food purveyors to reap the benefits of healthy, organic fare. Farm stands are good. Farm-to-table restaurants are better. Home gardens are best of all.
7. We embrace social media. Facebook started out as a platform for college kids. But now the aging parents of those college kids are all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites, sharing pictures of their pets, their grandchildren, and their latest vacation.
8. Believe it or not, we are still dating. According to the U. S. Census Bureau some 65 percent of Boomers are married. But that leaves 35 percent who are single (17 percent divorced, 11 percent never married), and many are still interested in dating, using online dating services, frequenting meet-up groups, and staying on the lookout from the supermarket to their Salsa lessons.
9. Nostalgia is here to stay. According to my son the music agent, the highest grossing bands are not the favorites of 20-something hipsters, like Jungle, Ratking or The Front Bottoms, but the old acts of yore like Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles and Paul McCartney. Meanwhile, what's big on Broadway? Cinderella, Jersey Boys, The Carole King Musical and Wicked, the latest twist on The Wizard of Oz.
10. We want a slower, easier life. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, Baby Boomers have the lowest rate of poverty among all age groups. Yet we exhibit the highest levels of anxiety. Why? We worry about our health, about losing our friends, about our children moving away. And we feel insecure because of financial issues such as the stability of our pensions and the prospects for the stock market, and all the questions that swirl around the very programs like Social Security and Medicare that keep us out of poverty.
And here you thought it was easy being a Baby Boomer!