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A study by Duke Sociologists shows generation born between 1946 & 1964 is incredibly diverse

Duke University Pratt School Of Engineering : 07 December, 2006  (Technical Article)
Although baby boomers are generally better off than previous generations, the enormous inequalities among the boomers mean many will struggle with poverty, declining health and lack of family networks as they age, two Duke University sociologists say.
One of the key findings of their year-old study, called “The Lives and Times of the Baby Boomers,” is that far from being the homogeneous Ozzie-and-Harriet kids of boomer myth, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 is incredibly diverse.

At midlife, for example, boomers have the highest wage inequality of any recent generation. Late boomers, born between 1956 and 1964, have the highest levels of poverty since the generation born before World War I. One in 10 late boomers lives in poverty at middle age.

And inequality persists, even in this generation, which is the first to come of age after the Civil Rights era. The researchers found that baby-boomer-age blacks are no better off relative to whites than their parents and grandparents.

As the oldest baby boomers turn 60 this year, these inequities can be expected to persist, and even increase.

“Given that the baby boomer generation is now more unequal than others at the same ages, we can expect them to be more unequal in old age than previous generations,” said study co-author Angela O’Rand.

The study is based on information from the U.S. Census. Published in 2004, it is part of a series sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation of New York and the Population Reference Bureau of Washington, D.C., designed to put the Census 2000 in context.

Based on the data, the sociologists offer some expectations for the future:

-- Baby boomers are likely to extend midlife well into what used to be considered “old age.” They will continue working longer, and responsibilities such as paying for college or having children at home will extend to older ages. They also are likely to enjoy good health and remain “actively engaged” longer than previous generations.

-- Economic inequalities are likely to become more important as the boomers age. The least well-off may face higher risks of unemployment and worse health at a time when policy changes are encouraging them to remain at work longer. Low wages and job instability also may mean they have less saved than previous generations.

-- Nontraditional families may pose new problems. Those who never married, had no children or were “absent fathers” may not be able to rely on family as part of their social safety net.
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