The Baby Boom

10 October 2016

America pledged to stay neutral in foreign affairs, but on December 7, 1941 hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked an American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii. More than 2,000 soldiers and sailors died in the devastating attack, and another 1,000 was wounded. [] This is influential because it pushed America to go to war and send soldiers abroad. According to ABC-CLIO “Half a generation of young men came of age overseas during World War II. ” When they returned to the United States, they were ready to take the next step in their lives. [] For most of the soldiers that next step was to rekindle old flames and start a family. This time period was known as the “Baby Boom” due to the increase in childbirth between the years 1946 and 1964. [] The “Baby Boom” affected American history by producing a counter culture, suburbs and the need to reform the social security system. The culture with values and morals that ran counter of society is only one way to describe the counter culture that the “baby boomers” brought to America. By the 1960’s majority of the new born babies were now young adults and the typical american life had shifted.

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When the war in Vietnam began many Americans believed that defending South Vietnam from communism was in the public interest but as the war dragged on, more and more Americans grew tired of the exaggerated conflicts and high cost. [] As a result it lead to an anti-war movement which involved peace rallies. According to Penny Sidoli “The 1960s Peace Movement became the first successful mass protest that stopped a war. They were characterized by marches, sit-ins, teach-ins and civil disobedience”. ] The anti-war movement was significant to American history because it helped shine a light on the importance of putting an end to the Vietnam War and the fight for civil rights. Also, it showed that the younger generation had a large impact on their government. Thanks to the anti-war movement by the counter culture many troops returned home and families got their young men back. The counter culture also pushed for peace and love. For example, Woodstock was a three day music and art fair that pushed for nonviolence. Woodstock was more than sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Woodstock was a event where the counter culture could define themselves as a generation that didn’t want anything to do with the values of their uptight elders. [] Before Woodstock, most adults looked at the counter culture as hippies with long hair who took drugs and listened to rock music not as a peaceful generation who wanted to make a change. According to ABC-CLIO, “Depending on whom you talked to at the time, young people in the 1960s were seen as passionate idealists seeking to establish a more equitable and loving world”. [] As a result of the new babies there was a higher demand for housing.

William Levitte began to cater to this demand during the 1950s and 60s. He built many new communities and became known for his mass production of housing. [] These Communities were built on the outskirts of cities called suburbs. Cars made it accessible for people to commute from home to their jobs in the cities. According to A&E Television Networks “The G. I. Bill subsidized low-cost mortgages for returning soldiers. ”[] This reveals that the government was helping soldiers so they can move, also this gave thousands of struggling new families a chance to own their own homes.

The baby boom and the rise of suburbs went hand in hand. If it weren’t for the baby boom the demand for housing wouldn’t have been so high. These houses were perfect for young families because they were a place where they could raise children and take their family to that next step. “The people who moved into these places initially weren’t in the professions: doctors, lawyers, bankers,” says Gary Cross, professor of history at the Pennsylvania State University. [] This affirms that the people who lived in these communities were average middle class citizens.

Leave It to Beaver is an American television show about a boy named Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver and his adventures at home, in school, and around his suburban neighborhood. []Television shows such as Leave It to Beaver mimicked the typical american life in the suburbs. “Popular culture began to glamorize the life that young couples could live in suburbia”says Kim Kenney. [] The television showed people living in the cities what suburban life was like. The suburbs soon became apart of the American dream. As a result of the suburbs becoming the american dream more people moved from cities and the number of suburbs raised.

Suburbs were important to American history because a new social class was formed, and thousands of affordable homes were produced. The baby boom has created many challenges with social security. To this day the baby boom generation is now going into their late 60s, and the need to reform social security is critical. Social security is a social insurance program that provides income security to senior citizens through retirement benefits. Part of their paycheck goes into it then when they are at retirement age they can start collecting money back from it.

By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems. [] About 80 million baby boomers are going into retirement and will cause a serious conflict that could result in my generation getting fewer benefits. Social Security is funded mostly through payroll taxes, with present-day workers funding the payouts for retirees, but since there have been so many Boomers in the workforce for so many years, there were a lot more people putting money into the system than taking it out. ] This causes a conflict because a large group of seniors will be taking money out of the system, and the generations that come after them will not be able to afford the high cost. Soon social security will start spending more than it collects. According to Fox News “The U. S. government currently borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends and is expected this fiscal year to draw a deficit of more than $1. 3 trillion. At the rate of current spending, interest on the debt alone will cost the U. S. $1 trillion by 2020”. [] This shows that America is already in debt.

The need to reform social security is important to American history because it could leave my generation of Americans without old age insurance. If it were not for the Baby Boom American history would be much different. The counter culture, and suburbs might not exist. We would also no longer need to reform the social security system because there wouldn’t be so many seniors using it. Woodstock would not have been a massive event and, the antiwar movement wouldn’t have been as powerful. The increase in childbirth had both its negative and positive affects.

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