Data Dive: Baby Boomer myths vs. realities

In five infographics, we explore some unexpected opinions of the generation that grew up in the wake of World War II and the hippie movement.

Ipsos | Baby boomer | Data dive
The author(s)
  • Melissa Dunne Public Affairs
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Ok, let’s talk about Baby Boomers*.

When the “ok boomer” memes went viral in 2019, they shone a spotlight on the irritation some younger people felt about an influential generation that has accumulated substantial global power and wealth over the past few decades.

Of course, just like other generations, Boomers are much more diverse and complicated than the jokes circulating about them on the internet.

Some of the life experiences, and thus worldviews, of a senior leader in Toronto likely bear little resemblance to that of a seasoned server in Tokyo. And Ipsos’ new global report, We Need to Talk About Generations, goes well beyond the “ok boomer” memes, as well digging much deeper into the views of Generation Xers, Millennials and Generation Zers from around the world.

Below, we look at what our recent Global Advisor polling finds about the generation that came of age in the wake of two devastating world wars and is now increasingly leaving the workforce and heading into retirement.

  1. Myth:
    All Boomers believe lazy Gen Zers/Millennials just have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (just like they did) if they want to succeed.

    There’s not some cavernous generational divide here.

    But, the first-ever Ipsos Equalities Index finds a slightly higher percentage of Boomers (48%, on average across 32 countries) do agree people’s chances of success in their country depends more on their own merit and efforts, compared to 44% Gen Xers, 41% Millennials and 40% of Gen Zers.

    Meanwhile, just over 1 in 4 (27%) of Boomers agree that people’s chance of success in their country depends more on factors beyond one’s control, compared to 29% of Gen Xers, 31% of Millennials and 30% of Gen Zers who say the same.

    Ipsos | Baby boomers
  2. Myth:
    Boomers are a bunch of dinosaurs who don’t think there’s any imbalance between how men and women are treated in 2023.

    Boomers in some countries were burning their bras and fighting for women’s rights in the ‘60s and ‘70s well before Gen Zers and Millennials were even born. A similar proportion of people of all ages agree women are more likely than men to experience unequal or unfair treatment in their country today.Ipsos | Baby boomer | Data dive

  3. Myth:
    Grumpy old Boomers are the only generation that think the world has pretty much gone to hell in a handbasket.

    Amid the current polycrisis (climate change, inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic and invasion of Ukraine) the majority across the age spectrum are pretty pessimistic about the state of things.But, Boomers (65%, on average across 29 countries) and their Gen Xer peers are indeed a bit more likely than younger people to think things in their country are off on the wrong track.Ipsos | Baby boomer | Data dive

  4. Myth:
    Boomers are rolling in dough after they collectively lucked into a being born at a time when a 20-something could buy a home for $5,000 and then lucked out again when they were able to sell that home for $5 million (*slight exaggeration*) during the pandemic housing frenzy.

    While some Boomers were able to cash in on the real-estate boom others are retirees on fixed incomes. Across ages and stages only a small percentage of people across the generations feel they’re living comfortably amid persistent inflation. The latest wave of the Ipsos Global Inflation Monitor finds a mere 11%, on average across 29 countries, of Boomers feel they’re living comfortably financially these days, pretty similar to that of other generations (8% of Gen Xers, 11% of Millennials and 10% of Gen Zers).Ipsos | Baby boomer | Data dive

  5. Myth:
    Out-of-touch Boomer grandpas and grandmas are writing letters with quills on parchment paper to their grandkids that are then sent by carrier pigeon.

    This generation has gone from using landlines to flip phones to smartphones and from typewriters to desktops to laptops … not to mention many watched the first man land on the moon.But, artificial intelligence (AI) may be one giant leap too far for some. Boomers are significantly less enthusiastic about AI compared to Gen Zers. Just over 2 in 5 (43%, on average across 31 countries) Boomers agreed products/services using AI have more benefits than drawbacks, compared to 62% of Gen Zers who say the same. And a mere 38% of Boomers (vs. 64% of Gen Zers) are excited about products/services using AI.Ipsos | Baby boomer | Data dive

Curious about common misconceptions and what our global polling reveals about other generations? Check out the rest of the series: Data Dive: Gen Z myths vs. realitiesData Dive: Millennial myths vs. realities and Data Dive: Gen X myths vs. realities.

*Generation Alpha (born after 2012), Generation Z (born between 1996-2012), Millennials (born between 1980-1995), Generation X (born between 1966-1979), Baby Boomers (born between 1945-1965) and Pre-War Generation (born between 1928-1944).

The author(s)
  • Melissa Dunne Public Affairs