Term Paper: Changing Leisure Trends of Baby Boomers

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Babyboomer Proposal

Over the next two decades the babyboomers will all be entering into their senior years. However, many of these millions of individuals due to their personal interests and experiences are already demanding and will continue to increase their requests for outdoor leisure and recreational activities that meet the needs of an aging population. It will be in the best interests of society as a whole and organizations specifically to meet and supply these needs. Yet, due to the differences within the babyboomer population, not all of these individuals born during this time period have the same needs. There are many who have little or a complete lack of interest in sports and recreational activities, due to growing health concerns, lack of income, different past experiences, varied education, and other personal factors. This study will interview approximately 200 babyboomers to determine the percentage breakdown of those who want such activities vs. those who do not and also to find the reasons why these latter individuals do not have an interest in these activities. Such information will help the U.S. As a whole and organizations more specifically better meet the needs of this huge demographic.

INTRODUCTION

Immediately after World War II the number of births rose significantly with over 4 million births per year. In total, approximately 76 million children were born in the United States between 1946 and 1964 (Light, 1988). This "babyboom" was due just to the returning soldiers, because it accelerated through the 1950s. The economy was flourishing and families moved to modern new homes in suburbs. Having children was a part of this cultural norm.

From the start, this generation was very different from that of their parents, with consumerism being a major goal. They were the first generation of children to be isolated by Madison Avenue as an identifiable target (Jones, 1980) "From the cradle, the baby boomers had been surrounded by products created especially for them, from Silly Putty to Slinkys to skateboards. New products, new toys, new commercials, new fads [were] integral to the baby boomer experience." These babyboomers related closely with their favorite toys and trends, which were promoted in the fast growing media. Television, which started out as a novelty, soon became a "must have" in homes. The boomers also began showing their defiant side with the strong following of rock groups (Gillian, 2004)

The babyboomers were also influenced by the fear of nuclear war. The Soviet Union challenged U.S. scientific superiority by launching the world's first satellite in 1957, while students were trained how to quickly sit under their desks in case of a bomb and watched news stories about building bomb shelters in back yards. This unknowing about the future made them even more desirous of "doing their own thing" while they could (2004). Many of the babyboomers grew up to rebel against the norm and continued to focus on their own needs.

What are (and will) these babyboomers be doing in their retirement years for leisure-time activities? Because of their different attitudes, will they have different interests than there parents? Will they be more active? What, if any factors, will influence their senior lifestyle, such as health, income and employment.

These babyboomers, for example, will be healthy longer than their parents. However, they are also expected to work later. Surveys conducted by AARP, the main advocacy organization for older Americans, show that up to 80% of boomers intend to work past 65. Many have expressed the desire to pursue entirely new second careers, such as social work or teaching (2005). Yet, no group this sizeable is homogeneous with the same background, interests and goals. As a whole, the babyboomers are more affluent than earlier generation, but similar to the changing economic breakdown of the U.S., this population is also made up of the "haves" and "have nots."

The babyboomers made up 29% of the U.S. population in 1997. According to projections made by the Bureau of the Census, that percentage will fall to 25% when the oldest of this generation become 65 in 2011, and to 16% when the youngest reach age 65 in 2029 (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1996). In that year, baabyboomers will range from 65 to 83. That age group accounted for 11% of the U.S. population in 1997. However, disagreement exists about population projections so far in the future. These population projections noted previously are based on the "middle series" population of the Bureau of the Census, which also publishes a "highest series" and a "lowest series." For example, while the middle series shows 69 million people age 65 or older in 2030, the highest series shows 79 million and the lowest series shows only 59 million.

Studies do not agree on whether they can afford to retire comfortably. Wealth in households headed by Americans 55 or over has doubled since 1989, reaching nearly $250,000 in 2004 (Cauchon, 2007, 1A). At the same time, some 55+ are having a difficult time. "The top one-third of the boomers will have lots of choices, and the bottom one-third will be working until they drop just to keep food on the table," said Paul Hodge, chairman of the Global Generations Policy Institute at Harvard University (Fetteman, 2006, 1B),

Health is another factor beside income that may impact the leisure time activities of the babyboomers. Although a large number of boomers are very health conscious and participating in sports and athletics in years far beyond earlier generations, another group of boomers are overweight and out of shape due to the unhealthy fat and sugar diet on which they grew up. Because these babyboomers are just beginning to retire, studies in this area have been few; and those that have been conducted can only surmise based on past behavior of this population or surveys of intended not yet actual choices. Will the normal age-related decline in active participation observed in the 1980s of senior and elderly adults continue into the future? Babyboomers have different recreation experiences and skills than their parents did at that age (Warnick, 1987). Also, higher levels of participation in recreation pursuits are also associated with higher education levels; this generation is now better educated. How will these trends impact involvement as these adults move into the mature adult years? Over the next couple of decades, it will be necessary for researchers, economists, and other practitioners and educators to keep abreast of age trends.

HYPOTHESES:

Overall, the babyboomers are proving to be more active in their mid-60s than their parents' generation, regardless if they are continuing to work or have retired. This will be due to being more affluent, having a more active lifestyle throughout adulthood, and keeping in better physical shape as seniors.

Although the majority of babyboomers will be more active, a discrepancy will be seen between this former population and those who are not as economically well off, have been leading more sedentary lives and have health concerns such as weight and heart issues.

METHODOLOGY

This study will consist of onsite interviews of a cross section of approximately 200 adults age 55 to 60 in Lake Havasu City, weighted to reflect the total U.S. adult population for age, sex, race, education and household income. To examine the importance of recreation and parks as a factor in retirees' relocation decisions, respondents will be asked questions that will reflect the importance of recreation in their relocation decisions. It will be found whether or not retirees who perceive leisure time activities as important differ with respect to age, gender, education, marital status, income, health and values from those who do not rank these activities high. In theory, with samples of this size, one could say there will be a sampling error. Questions will concern: retirement plans; future line of work; how feel about aging; where to live in retirement; financial preparation; comprehensive financial plan; physical health condition; leisure time activities, education.

BUDGET sample budget is given below. This was a longitudinal survey done at Lake Havasu City. It required on-site interviews of visitors at three different locations over a three-month period.

Project Expenses

Project Director $1,000

Survey Staff (2) 2x$7/hr x 8hr x 2 days/month=$224/month x 5 months) $1,120

Payroll Withholding $

Travel $ vehicle (12 days x $37/day) $ mileage (300 miles/rt x 12 x$0.18/mile) $

Lodging (1 rm @$79/night x 12 nights) $

Printing (1,000 sheets @.05/sheet) & Final Report $

Total Expenses $4,751

LITERATURE REVIEW

The topic of age and recreation participation is attracting more interest, as the government, marketers and service companies try to determine how the changing demographics will restructure society and leisure activities over the next two decades. As the senior population grows in both concrete numbers and as a percentage of the entire population -- new challenges will be placed on social services, government budgets and, perhaps, the economy as a whole.

Participation in outdoor leisure and recreational activities offers aging adults a number of different advantages. It provides them with new experiences and locations, encourages different interests,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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