Baby Boom

World War II was a long and difficult conflict. Peace in 1945 came as an immense relief and, in many countries, people celebrated by embarking upon relationships that had been postponed because of the fighting. The result was a sharp rise in births during the post-war years - the so-called Baby Boom.

baby boomers

The boom was most marked in America, where around 75 million babies were born between 1946 and 1964. In Britain, the boom was lower but, nevertheless, the annual number of births peaked at almost 900,000 in the late 1940s - a significant increase over the war years.

The first "baby boomers" had a huge impact on society during the 1960s and have continued to dominate the socio-economic landscape ever since. In post-war Britain, the government built new schools and introduced other measures such as free school milk and child benefit to cater for the boomer generation.

When they hit their teens, these well-educated, well-fed youngsters rebelled against the pre-war attitudes of their parents. The sixties were the decade of the baby boomers, although some of their heroes were officially a little too old to be true boomers themselves (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were born in 1943, for example).

As they got older, the boomers began to assume positions of power. In 1993, Bill Clinton (born 1946) was the first baby boomer to become U.S. president. His successor, George W. Bush, was a boomer, too. In Britain, Tony Blair's landslide victory of 1997 wasn't just a win for New Labour: it marked the beginning of boomer government in this country.

In the 21st century, the teen rebels have become Grumpy Old Men and Women, rather anxious about their pensions but determined to enjoy their impending retirement. It'll be the sixties all over again, but with less hair. In an uncertain age, this much is certain: tomorrow's pensioners are more likely to be wearing jeans and T-shirts than tweed suits or floral skirts!