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Boom-Baby Profile : NOT LIKE OUR PARENTS How the Baby Boom Generation Is Changing America by D. Quinn Mills (William Morrow: $17.95; 297 pp.)

February 07, 1988|Wanda Urbanska | Urbanska is the author of "The Singular Generation" (Doubleday)

Born between 1946 and 1964, the baby-boom generation has been widely scrutinized by journalists, sociologist and market researchers trying to explain, define and target it. The latest entry into the field is "Not Like Our Parents: How the Baby Boom Generation is Changing America," a survey-based analysis ranging over a variety of topics from parenting, to politics, to the new meaning of success.

Author Mills bristles at the media stereotype of baby boomers as "shallow." The book's stated purpose is to help bridge the gap in values between baby boomers and the Depression- and World War II-shaped generation that holds the economic power cards in the United States. Though his goal is admirable, for those familiar with the literature in the field, there is little surprising or even new here.

Mills writes, for instance, that in personal relationships boomers have relapsed the "old standard of faithfulness" with the "new standard of truthfulness"; that they "by and large stay out of the political fray"; that boomer men--unlike their fathers--accept and therefore compete with women in the business world. He divides the generation into five personality categories: the pleasure-seekers, competitors, trapped, contented and the get-highs. However, he fails to make necessary chronological distinctions within the generation. Mills states that, in contrast to their parents, "many baby boomers have little or no sense of economic insecurity." True perhaps for the older members of the generation who came of age in the 1960s when the economy was expanding, but not true for those who came along in the '70s and '80s to face the prospect of downward economic mobility.

"Not Like Our Parents" is a well-intentional account of the values of baby boomers, but does not shed enough new light on the subject to be entirely satisfying.

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