LIFETRENDS: The Future of Baby Boomers and Other Aging Americans by Jerry & Others Gerber

LIFETRENDS: The Future of Baby Boomers and Other Aging Americans

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An intriguing and timely study from marketing consultants on the 50-plus generation--consultants who've amassed a rich assortment of facts and opinions about the life-styles of the elderly, and who try to predict the fate of the next generation of aging Americans. As with all crystal-ball gazing, the generalizations here are titillating but the ground on which they rest is often shaky. Recognizing this, the authors consistently hedge their bets, sometimes with irritating effect. In a discussion of the immense political clout the next generation of aged will have, they conclude that this can either unite all age groups for the social good, or else create unprecedented polarization between young and old. This sort of waffling pervades all the predictions, so that the real value of this book lies not so much in its conclusion as in the assemblage of a great deal of data, some fresh, some stale, in an accessible and popular form. The authors examine in detail bundles of statistics on the differences between the current crop of elderly and the boomers in their sexual mores, education, political interests, health, family clusters, etc. Here, too, the interpretation of data is often glib. For instance, the authors assert that baby boomers will constitute a better educated group of elderly than their parents, more activist and with ""a more extensive work experience."" To support this, they cite figures showing that 44% of the aged now have high-school diplomas and 10% college degrees, whereas 86% of the baby boomers will have had a high-school education and 24% college degrees. But will this make them better educated? Despite longer years of schooling, a deteriorated educational system has produced a higher rate of illiteracy rather than a well-educated generation. Nor is it clear what the authors have in mind in claiming a ""more extensive work experience"" for the boomers than for their parents, when the dramatic increase in part-time workers at low-skilled jobs would seem to contradict this. Similarly, there is evidence that the boomers are less rather than mote politically active than their parents. Despite such faults, however, the material is fascinating and stylishly presented, and should provide for lively and provocative discussion amongst a broad cross section of readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1989
Publisher: Macmillan