Neither age nor year of birth account for the Baby Boomer differences distinguished in 2006 by Yankelovich Inc., the country’s leading social research company.
The firm has been studying Baby Boomers since the mid-1960s. In fact, one of its co-founders, the late Florence Skelly, coined the term “Baby Boomers.”
The results of studies conducted over the years have been published periodically in books and reports.
In 2006, as the oldest of the Boomers were turning 60, Yankelovich updated its findings on Boomers with a study looking at the generation’s hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future.
The researchers confirmed the universal characteristics of all Baby Boomers: our propensity to break rules and challenge the established ways of doing things; our obsession with youthful vitality or immortality; our commitment to family, particularly grandchildren; our need to continue to matter and stay involved; our passionate pursuit for adventure.
From there, Yankelovich distinguished Baby Boomer differences with the Boomer Dreams study of 2006. Six distinct groups of Boomers were identified.
Straight Arrows: Representing 33 percent of the Boomers, this group is driven by traditional values and religion and highly interested in sharing their beliefs with others.
Due Diligents: Representing 10 percent of the Boomers, they hold personal priorities as most important. They plan for the worst and they take risks, as long as they feel protected.
Maximizers: Representing 15 percent of Boomers, they too hold personal priorities at the top. They want to get the most out of life and seek fulfillment by immersing themselves in everything possible.
Sideliners: Representing 20 percent, they also value personal priorities but are less involved in activities and amusements. They are private, self-contained and undemanding.
Diss/Contenteds: One of the two groups for which societal priorities are highest, this accounts for 8 percent of Boomers. They see social problems they would like to fix, however they shy away from getting involved if it means giving up their comfort.
Re-Activists: Societal priorities are highest for this group, which represents 15 percent of Boomers. They’re ready to join campaigns for social causes, wanting to get involved while they still can.
Boomers are not clustered in any of these attitudinal groups by birth year or age. They are equally distributed throughout all the groups. The Sideliners are less educated. The Maximizers, Diss/Contenteds and Re-Activists are the most educated.
Straight Arrows showed greater attendance at worship services and most conservative. Diss/Contenteds and Re-Activists are the most liberal and most concerned with social causes.
A deeper and broader look at these Baby Boomer differences as well as other findings from the Boomer Dreams study can be found in Yankelovich’s Generation Ageless. The book was published in 2007.