Negative Effects of Baby Boomers Generation
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Baby boomers are classified as the generation, born after the depression in the 1930’s, where soldiers returning from the war found that life was much easier in Canada. There were more jobs and houses were easily acquired. Because of the prosperous time, people were able to have large families and to support them. These boomers caused a large population growth in Canada, and because of their sheer numbers, they have played a major role in the changes of social structures in Canada, namely in finance, family, work ethic and popular culture. However, these changes may not have been suitable for the generation after the Boomers: Generation X. They seem to be having a difficult time adjusting to the structure of society with the same level of tenure as their parents, the Boomers.
The Boomers were raised in very hard times when there was little work, food or places to live. As World War 2 ended and the depression was over, Boomers raised families under the premise that they didn’t’ want to see their children suffer as they did. They gave them everything that they wanted, and rather than teach them the importance of money and the value of family, they were content not to see their children in need as they had been. This began to develop the idea of instant gratification. People have become basically spend-happy and for the most part, and choose to live outside of their means.
Racking up crippling school debts and poor choice spending habits upon entering the work force has forced many Generation X-ers to postpone things like having children, purchasing houses, and saving money for retirement. All of which are important elements of family. And as the Boomers set a financial precedent that their children simply cannot attain, due to higher requirements for education and higher costs of this education, to earn the same amount of money at the same stages in life, is next to impossible. Generation X has had difficulty in measuring up to their boomer parents in the financial aspects of society. Few understand that Canada’s economy is very different from earlier years and it requires hard work to achieve what their boomer parents did at the same stages in life.
The differences in finance have had effects on the structure of family itself. There have been changes in the simple size of families as the children of the Boomers have had considerably smaller families than those of their parents. The Boomers could afford to raise large families and they accumulated the assets to do so comfortably at an early age. Generation X has found it more difficult to even start a family (never mind a large one), and acquire the same level of possessions. This has led to a shift in the focus of a person’s goals in life from family and community, to materiality where you’re valued by what you own. The higher divorce rates, and the number of single parent homes living in poverty, are evidence of this shift in focus. People are divorcing simply because it’s less costly to be single. Because boomers were family oriented and they had many family members, they will have people to depend on, if necessary, in retirement. Whereas, someone who never married (or couldn’t afford children) and who didn’t fully prepare for retirement, will not have that support. Family is one of the most important structures in a person’s life and the value of this structure seems to have been diminished by the distractions of what possessions a person should accumulate over a lifetime.
The Baby Boomers caused a population growth that has had many effects on how society is structured. Because there was a demand for more dwellings, jobs and education facilities, Canada’s agriculture structure was greatly impacted. For example, people are more interested in being educated and working within business, or offices with computers than they are with farming which is honest hard work. There seems to be a black dot on physically demanding jobs, reserving them for uneducated and lower class people. This is dangerous to our economy because as there a fewer farmers, and more people to feed in Canada, we must rely more on importing goods. In 1966 Canada was spending only $137 million on importing agriculture and fish products. That number has risen to $22 billion by 2005 (Statistics Canada, 2005).
Also the development of Canada’s farmland into towns and cities to support the population growth, has reduced the possibility of producing more food internally. In 1966 there were 174 million hectares of farmland in use, and in 2001, there were only 36 million hectares left in use (Statistics Canada, 2001). The balance between education and agriculture has clearly favoured education in the recent generations. In 1961 there were 830,000 farmers of 9,950,000 total labour force (people over 15 who are able to work) in Canada. In 2001 there were only 346,000 of 15,820,000 (Statistics Canada, 2001). There are 58% less farmers, and 31% more people in the labour force. Society doesn’t seem to be interested Canada’s agricultural system as the Boomers may not have passed onto their children the value of honest hard work. While Generation X seems to favour finding a way to make the big buck, and as nearly everyone is seeking it out, Canada’s farmers and farmland are being neglected.
The Baby Boomers were many in number and were in much of the same age group. Because of this they were a very influential generation, especially in the aspect of media and popular culture. It was because there were so many of them and that they all enjoyed the generally unaccepted form of “black music”, that it became popularized and socially acceptable. The Boomers were the majority of the people buying records and tuning into radio stations creating a market for the music of Jerry Lee Lewis, and the sounds of Motown. This appeal to teenagers and youth originated with the boomers and is carried into succeeding generations, thereby altering the way advertising is done. Formerly appealing to mothers as they were in charge of the household purchasing, advertising for popular innovations have since appealed to teenagers who are accustomed to getting what they want.
This seems to have resulted in the youth of each following generation ultimately deciding what’s modern and popular for their era, and for how long. This has had a negative effect on present generations. Beyond the household bills and responsibilities, parents must also find a way to provide such perceived necessities to their children as designer clothing and merchandise that society could really do without. For example, if the telephone bill needs to be paid and a child wants new shoes for the first day of school, the new shoes would most likely be where the money is spent as children don’t see the result of a paid telephone bill. They expect that they will always have a phone to use and never really appreciate what it takes to maintain. Without the baby boomers pioneering the changes in how products are marketed, there really would not be the gearing ads to youth precedent for today’s advertisers to follow.
Although the Boomers have had many positive influences on the world, there are clearly some negative effects that need to be understood in able to prepare Canadian Society for the future. The social effects the Baby Boomers have had on finance, family work ethic and today’s popular culture have, in many ways, weakened the integrity and value systems of the following generations. These changes may be difficult to undo, but it is ultimately an individual’s decision as to how he/she moves into the future. Whether it be tagging along and adjusting to the hustle and bustle of today’s society, or holding on to the old values of family and honest, hard work that build this country in the first place, it is his/her decision to make.
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