Boomers Show Attitude Change is Timeless

September 15, 2002 | By Jane Glenn Haas

Boomers are beginning to show their age, according to a survey released Saturday as part of the national AARP convention.

In the report, “Tracing Baby Boomer Attitudes Then and Now,” pollsters asked the same questions originally asked boomers in the mid-1970s. “But in the 1970s, the boomers were in their 20s, and today they are running the country,” said Jeffrey Love, director of strategic issues research for AARP. New poll results comparing boomer answers then and now show:

Today’s boomers are far more supportive of increasing U.S. military power (41 percent to 66 percent).

Boomers overwhelmingly feel America will be at war within the decade (90 percent).

Their confidence in organized religion has tumbled (30 percent to 13 percent).

At the same time, the generation gap often cited between boomers and their parents has disappeared between boomers and their children, Love said.

Boomers and their children have similar attitudes about sex, personal responsibility and respect for their parents, he said.

AARP—once known as the American Association of Retired Persons, but now known just by the acronym—is paying increasing attention to boomers, a group now reaching age 50 at the rate of one every 7 1/2 minutes.

“We are signing record numbers of boomer members,” said Bill Novelli, AARP executive director.

He said boomer “wants” may seem different from their parents, “but their needs—health care and retirement security—are the same, and we are finding all generations share the same values.”

Novelli, challenged with energizing AARP’s image for boomers, launched a 2011 Council at the convention. The oldest boomers will be 65 in 2011.

Council members include William Strauss, author of “Generations,” law professor Anita Hill, author Erica Jong, journalist Carl Bernstein, actor Billy Baldwin and UCLA demographer Leo Figuera.

At its first public meeting Saturday, council members talked about boomer attitudes toward war, government, even raising children.

Activist efforts of the 1960s, from the civil-rights movement to the women’s movement, helped shape today’s society, they concluded.

“We won many of those battles,” Hill said. “Now many of us are in a position to promote change within the system.”

The idea of making change appealed to Shelly Whisler, 51, of Irvine.

“In our culture, especially in Orange County, you feel more and more excluded as you get older.

“But listening to these people, I feel like I’ve found a new community to embrace and a new place to make a difference.”

More than 13,000 AARP members attended the three-day convention, hearing presentations on changes in retirement lifestyle, finances, dating after 50, health and nutrition, among other topics.

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