In our work studying boomers, one key generational characteristic of this cohort has been their optimism. Coming of age in the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, when the economy prospered and social issues were addressed, boomers entered adulthood with a rose-colored view of the future.
Jump forward some 30 years to the “Great Recession.” It isn’t so sunny any more. Boomers are entrenched in middle age, feeling their years and facing mounting debt as the kids go through college and the parents face health care needs. Squeezed by both and suffering from a shrinking 401(k) balance and an economy destined to remain soft, it is not surprising that some youthful optimism has faded.
Three reports point to trouble
Three recent reports about attitudes at the end of the “Uh-Ohs” (the ’00s) indicate that the bloom has indeed come off those rose-colored glasses.
* First, Pew Research reports in “Current Decade Rates as Worst in 50 Years,” that boomers are the least optimistic generation when asked about the next decade – half say it will be “better” than the current one. Think overcast, not sunny.