Baby-Boomers, Generation-X and Social Cycles
by Edward Cheung


Over the past two decades, many changes have taken place in society that appear daily in the news stories of our newspapers and magazines. Whenever we meet people, whenever we talk about issues, these topics come up frequently in our conversations. In the early 1980's, there was an awareness that the women's movement was on the decline and the media brought it to the forefront with the question, "Where did the women's movement go?". At the same time rock 'n' roll was facing the same ailments. As the 1980's came to an end and the 1990's recession began, the dominant issues have been the economy and the continuance of the conservative era. What did happen to the women's movement, to rock 'n' roll and to the economy? Baby-boomers, Generation-X and Social Cycles explores these issues and provides a historical and statistical basis for answering these questions.

Baby-Boomers, Generation-X and Social Cycles begins by examining the population statistics of the United States from 1789 to the present and shows that at intervals, there have been baby-booms other than the most recent one from 1936 to 1957. A baby-boom of larger magnitude had occurred one hundred years ago in the mid-1800's. In between these two baby-booms, there was a minor one in the early 1900's. These baby-boomers the author calls Generation 'B'. Following each baby-boom was baby-bust, which in our time has been labeled as Generation 'X'. The 1920's had a generation similar to that of Generation 'X' today. What makes the experience of Gen-X similar to that of the 1920's is that both generations had a difficult time getting jobs. The 1920's generation, when they came of age, was confronted by the Great Depression. Gen-X has been confronted with a series of rolling recessions. Another similarity between these two generations is that both came of age in a conservative climate. In the 1920's, the conservative administrations of presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover governed for 12 years. In the 1980's, the conservative administrations of Reagan and Bush governed for the same amount of time. Canada had the conservative administration of Brian Mulroney, and Britain had the government of Margaret Thatcher and John Majors.

Just as remarkable are the similarities in experience between each of the Gen-Bs. In the 1900's Gen-B discovered Jazz. The young reveled in the new music. The establishment frowned upon what it thought was nothing but noise. The women's movement rallied to get the vote. And the Settlement House movement was established to help the poor. The Gen-B born in the 1930's followed the same course of action starting in the 1950's with rock'n'roll. As the young reveled, the establishment tried to find heavy-duty ear-plugs. This time, the women's movement revived and fought for equal rights while the War on Poverty was carried on by governments. When Gen-B got older, all these activities came to an end. At the same time, shifts in expenditures and life-styles of Gen-B caused shifts in aggregate demand, producing the long-wave economic cycle. Gen-B changed from being consumers to being savers and investors. Thus as economic growth moderates, the savings rate and the stock market continues to move up. As a result, Gen-X, being a much smaller group, has difficulty finding jobs because of diminished consumer demand. With changes in social and economic conditions come changes in artistic expression, eventually setting trends in industrial and commercial designs.

Baby-Boomers, Generation-X and Social Cycles examines the history of Prohibition, the Woman Movement, Popular Music, the YMCA, the Settlement House Movement, Politics, and the Economy and demonstrates the effects caused by shifts in the composition of the population on these histories in the United States, Canada and in other parts of the world. Statistical series analyzed include:

U.S. Population 1789 - 1990
Canadian Population 1867 - 1993
Birth rate 1800 - 1970
Immigration 1830 - 1990
Consumption of Alcohol 1785 - 1975
Church Membership 1800 - 1970
Votes for President 1792 - 1988
Government Expenditures 1789 - 1990
Savings 1855 - 1970

Contains over 20 graphs.

This description is for the 1995 edition.

A new edition of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Social Cycles, Volume 1: North American Longwaves will be available in 2007.

Baby-Boomers, Generation-X and Social Cycles was first published in 1994 under the title Population, Politics, Social Movements and the Economy.