When did the baby boom end?

We all know what year the baby boom started – 1946, the year after WWII ended.

But when did the baby boom end? 1962? 1963? 1964? Later than that?

This is important, because I was born in 1965 and I don’t know if I’m in the baby boom or in Gen-X.

I hear 1964 as the most common year for the end of the “Baby Boom”. But I think there’s some overlap. Technically, I’m a “boomer”; but I have more in common with Gen-X.

You’re only as old as you decide to be.

I’ve always heard 1964, but I was born in late 1963 and I certainly don’t feel like a Boomer, and really not much like Gen-X. I’ve heard the expression Tweener for us.

11:59 p.m. on December 31, 1964 according to this site. :smiley:

OK, nobody - not even the site I linked to - defines eras that precisely, but it says that 1964 is generally thought of as the end of the Baby Boom, and that Gen-X is babies from 1965-1981. Being born so close (by which I mean within a year or two) to the generally-accepted arbitrary date, you could probably claim to be either with nobody in much of a position to hassle you. :slight_smile:

1946 to 1964 is what I always thought.

One thing you ought to know is that the Baby Boom was originally conceived in terms of the number of babies born in a year, not as an attempt to define a cultural period. When just after World War II it was noticed that there was a large increase in the number of babies born, someone decided that this made it a baby boom. They kept track of the number of births and, when it was noticed that in 1964 the number finally dropped back to what it was before 1946, they decided that the period of “The Baby Boom” officially ran from 1946 to 1964 (well, sort of, but more below).

The idea that the people born in these years constituted a distinct cultural group didn’t arise until at least the late '60’s. The notion of Generation X wasn’t even thought of till the early '90’s. Like any attempt to define a time period as being a coherent cultural division, there has to be a certain amount of arbitrariness in the definition. Defining the Baby Boom as being the time when the number of births was above a certain amount makes a much clearer way to set the bounds to the period.

I’ve heard several attempts to move the boundaries of the period to fit it to various author’s theories of what the real cultural divisions between people born after World War II are. They all struck me as rather arbitrary. The last time this topic came up on the SDMB, I tried to come up with my own theories. I wrote a lot of a post explaining my theory of “The Rock and Roll Generation.” I contend that anyone born from 1939 on constitutes a distinct set from anyone born before then, since anyone born from 1939 on listened to rock and roll as a teenager. I came up with half a dozen subdivisions of the Rock and Roll Generation according to what year someone was born. It all sounded rather clever, but I realized that I was being as arbitrary as anybody else trying to split the period into cultural divisions, so I gave up and decided not to post it.

Incidentally, the fact that the period of greater births was from 1946 to 1964 only applies to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In Europe, on the other hand, the baby boom after World War II only lasted for about five years.

One of my first posts to the SDMB was about the Baby Boom. It’s still an issue that annoys me. Most people seem to define the Boom as being from about 1945 to 1964 or so. The peak occurred around 1955 – the year I was born. Yet the media seem to treat “Boomers” as a cultural group that has a shared experience that is alien to most of us.

Daniel Boone, Howdy Doody, Hippies, Campus revolution, Sit-ins, Underground Comix, LSD, Woodstock, then becoming yuppies.

Except most of us were too young for that – this was the experience of the people at the front of the Boom, the ones who are in their mid-fifties now. Folks born at the crest of the Boom only saw Daniel Boone and Mickey Mouse Club in syndicated reruns. Were too young to be hippies or to go to Woodstock. Didn’t protest the Vietnam War on campus. People born as late as 1964 were light-years removed from even this experience.

My gripe is that what seems to be the standard method of grouping people by common experience is completely off the mark. The media is treating all the Boomers as if they have already received that first mailing from the AARP, when in fact the bulk of us are still years away from that traumatic experience.

If they did this bad with the Boomers, I’m sure they screwed up just as badly on the X’ers.

My husband was born in January 65 and his mother watched these things, when she was little.

As a cultural phenomenon, Wendell Wagner, I think you have it about right. For me the simplest definition for cultural boomers is anyone who was a teenager during the 60s, which pushes the birth years back to 1941 to 1956.

This definition has a couple of advantages. For one thing it means that most of the musicians who defined the 60s become boomers, which links them to their audience. (There are those who denigrate the boomer generation because the Beatles, Stones, etc. were born before 1946 and ask what the boomers have produced to compare. Even beyond the obvious answers to that question, to ask such a question is to show the fallacy of treating the birth rate as an indicator of culture.)

It also moves the end of the generation back to a reasonable point. I’ve worked with people born in 1963 and the gap in culture between them and me is enormous. By ending it in 1957 you get people old enough to have some appreciation of the Kennedy assassination and the coming of the Beatles.

For serious work, you’d need to fine tune it – those born in the late 50s miss all the touchstones of 50s tv, e.g. – but as a mnemonic it’s the best that I’ve seen.

All techniques of categorizing people into “generations” are highly questionable. As people have been observing, in a category that wide, a large number of people near the boundaries will not have participated in some crucial cultural marker events.

It is inaccurate in other ways, too. Born in 1952, I am undeniably a boomer, though I will note that when I was a kid I was towards the end of the category, not smack dab in the middle of it, because people usually used the term then to speak of babies born immediately after WWII. They broadened the term later to make it a generational label.

In spite of being undeniably a boomer, I didn’t participate in many of those crucial events either, at least not until I got to college, which was in the 70’s (and promptly made up for lost time in some areas, I will admit). I lived in a rural area - it was 5 miles in to a little town that the effect of a lot of the watershed events bypassed, and heck, this was before satellite folks - we were in a fringe area, and because we weren’t in town and thus couldn’t get cable, we could only actually get 2 of the 3 networks, fuzzily. Some of those “common” TV shows were something I missed out on, unless I saw them at friend’s houses in town (IIRC, it was ABC we flat out couldn’t get).

These “generational” labels are at odds with most people’s individual experiences to a significant degree.

I know virtually nothing of these concepts except what I make up. That said, I’d like to weigh in by suggesting that these categories are most useful and used by folks who market and sell. They are gross generalization and like most stereotypes, there are a few who fit and the great majority do not. I’m a baby boomer, technically, being born in '43, but the only thing that seems to fit the “baby boomer” definition for me is my age. I don’t seem to be interested in what’s being marketed to my age group. I don’t watch what they say I watch on tv. I don’t read what they say I read. I don’t listen to what they say I listen to, except in some very limited ways. All of which is to say that until “Gen X” got invented by some marketing dweeb, the whole concept of naming targeted demographics (again, for sales purposes) was much less prominent. The question of the OP betrays a great navite about these matters, as if these categories are actually facts. Not his fault, of course, being a product of the age in which he finds himself. (I realize that this last assertion sort of contradicts my own thesis, but I’m suggesting that we’re ALL products of our times, but no so homogeneously and universally as implied by him. And not defined by specific dates.)

Herself, actually:)

Well, I feel that I’m immersed more in Boomer culture than Gen-X culture (in college, I actually wore old clothes from the 1960s).

I think that you can be attracted to any era in time, and that you should roll with it instead of following the generational “rulebook”.

I often refer to myself as “the last Boomer” because of my birthdate (12-31-64). But, I think 1946-1964 is only the officially recognized Boomer period. I’m definitely not much of a Gen-Xer, but I also don’t remember Ed Sullivan, Howdy Doody or coonskin caps, all hallmarks of the Boom. I’ve never heard Tweener, but I’ve heard Crossover Baby, which I kinda like.

You could not be more correct. My husband was born in '49, I was born in '58. We were raised within 10 miles of each other, but, based on our experiences while growing up, you would think we came from different planets.

1946-1964 puts me in the same generation as my adoptive parents and my birth mother.