The 75% Factor: Uncovering Hidden Boomer Values

Co-authored by James V. Gambone, Ph.D. and Principal Investigator
and Erica Whittlinger, MBA,
Baby Boomers and Partners, ReFirement® Incorporated

The full Report is based on a new interpretation of census data available since 1975 and from conversations over an eight year period with over 2,000 diverse men and women born between 1945 and 1963.

New Information from Census Data and Social Science Research
According to Census data, 75 percent of the Boomer generation, (approximately 57 million), came from poor-, working-class, small family-farm, or small family-business backgrounds. If you look at the table below, you will see that the parents of these young Boomers were blue collar, marginally employed, or ran a small family business or farm.

Unfortunately, social science demographic research studies and media reporting on the generation for the past 30 years has been disproportionately focused on the 25 percent of the generation whose parents were white-collar professionals with post-secondary educations. One of the results of this imbalanced coverage has been to ignore the core values of 75 percent of the generation. Three "hidden values" documented in the Report—belonging, giving back, and risk taking—are not values commonly associated with today’s Boomers.

The full Report carefully examines each of these values, how they developed, and the importance they have to men and women now reaching mid-life. Another important aspect of the Report is the presentation of the value of "giving back" as perhaps the first "diversity value" of the Boomer generation. In the Report we learn more about the value formation of Boomers of color growing up in the late ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. The Report also presents experts who speculate on the impact these early formative years have, or will have, on mid-life adults in America’s aging society.

Gambone and Whittlinger state that when men and women of the Boomer generation face major life-changing moments in the third stage of their lives, (one Boomer turns 50 every 11 seconds), they begin to look much deeper within themselves to ask the all-important question, "Who Am I Really?" According to the Report, the good news is, (especially after 9/11), that millions will answer this question from a core value perspective that will include: the importance of feeling a sense of belonging, needing to give something back, and taking more personal and entrepreneurial risks.

Gambone and Whittlinger suggest this new Boomer Profile Data will be very valuable to investment and financial advisors, advertising agencies, media editors, government planning agencies, human resource directors, and anyone involved in volunteer recruitment aimed at the aging Boomer demographic.

The Report outlines four significant implications of this new data for the popular culture, business, government and non profits, and an aging society. They conclude the Report by challenging their generation: "If 57 million of us decided to raise up the values of belonging in a society suffering from the pains of isolation, to give something back because we have been given so much, and take risks to age maturely and cooperatively with all generations—we would change America in ways we could only have dreamt about in the 1960s."

The full Report is available electronically (as a pdf file) for $12 (plus sales tax for MN residents). A printed version of the report is available $15.00, (plus shipping and sales tax for MN residents). Go to Publications page – 75% Factor to order. For further information, call 1-952-472-3379 or make inquiries to rfmail@refirement.com.

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