Washington Post columnist Bump debuts with an insightful if overstuffed look at the baby boom generation and “the grip that it held and still holds on our national conversation.” Complementing his original reportage with copious charts and graphs, Bump details the post-WWII “baby tsunami” that saw the average number of births increase from 2.9 million per year to just below four million, and investigates how certain characteristics of boomers, who skew whiter than the general population and are less likely to have a college degree, contribute to today’s political polarization. Noting that schools built in the 1960s and ’70s to meet the spike in student-age population are being converted into senior living centers, Bump also explores likely “shifts in power, status, and identity” as boomers’ percentage of the overall population declines, noting a growth in Republican strength among working-class voters of color and increased assimilation among Hispanics, among other trends. More than 100 graphs visualize issues of race, political beliefs, education, and socioeconomic levels in novel ways, allowing Bump to draw counterintuitive insights, including that the depletion of Social Security resources “is the system working as intended and not representing some sudden collapse.” Often, however, the data overwhelms and the arguments sprawl in diffuse directions. This intriguing survey bites off a little more than it can chew. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
A fascinating account of demographic change and future possibilities” —The Guardian
“[A] highly detailed, data-driven, definitive story of how baby boomers changed America and a little forecasting of what might come next...Bump is a reliable, honest narrator who leans into complexity and refuses simple or singular explanations.” The Washington Post
"Bump leaves no stone unturned as he takes a detailed look at the rise of the baby boom generation, its impact on the United States and the implications of its final days." AP News
"Draws on a tsunami of data in an immensely informative assessment of the last days of the baby boom generation and its impact on politics, education, religion and the economy of the United States." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"The Aftermath is stuffed with enough charts and graphs to make any data-driven wonk swoon...In between, in clear and lively prose, Bump delves into the changes the baby boom wrought on America and looks ahead at the effects they still might have, on the economy, politics and more." Tampa Bay Times
"Insightful...intriguing survey...More than 100 graphs visualize issues of race, political beliefs, education, and socioeconomic levels in novel ways."—Publishers Weekly
“Rewarding, provocative reading for students of demographic trends.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Smart, insightful and elegantly written, The Aftermath is a powerful and provocative account of the generational shift that lies at the heart of our current national malaise. The Baby Boomers are not going away quietly. The question is, will American democracy survive this tumultuous transition? Marshalling the voices of a wide range of Americans, Philip Bump helps us understand that no matter the troubles of our days, the future of this nation rests with what we do now. And that means all of us—not just Baby Boomers.” —Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Princeton University
"Whether we're talking about politics, the economy, culture or generational shifts in America, who doesn't want to know 'what's going to happen next?' Amidst so much change and disruption, it's almost impossible to see the future clearly, but Philip Bump manages to do just that. A lively, engaging, and provocative read, The Aftermath covers the contours of the Baby Boomers' many contributions and failures, while laying out the stakes for the future of equity, power, and everything that matters in American life." —CNN Political Commentator, S.E. Cupp
“Baby boomers are a generation so huge — and so contradictory — as to be almost a mystery to itself and to others, at least until Philip Bump came along. With charts (and more charts), Bump combs out the tangles and tells a story about power, and influence, and the passage of time. What will happen when the most educated and wealthy generation that the world has ever seen is gone? No one knows for sure. But Bump seems to know better than most. This is essential reading.”—Katy Tur, Anchor of Katy Tur Reports, MSNBC
"As one of the very first Gen Xers (b. January 1965), it was a pleasure to read this impeccably researched, data-driven survey of modern America and see it finally proved, with charts no less, that none of our troubles are in any way my fault." —Peter Sagal, Host, NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”
In this book, Washington Post columnist Bump focuses on baby boomers, the generation born from 1946 to 1964. The book provides a detailed, well-researched assessment of the role baby boomers play in politics, economics, the health care system, and power shifts. The author compares baby boomers to other generations, which leads to some interesting tidbits. Highlights include that they are unlikely to be immigrants, more likely to live outside large cities, less likely to have a college degree, and usually more religious than later generations. The author also examines how generations overlap in perspectives and whether the rise of Gen Z will affect millennials' jobs and capital opportunities. VERDICT This title will likely be of high interest to scholars and those interested in social and behavioral sciences.—Claude Ury
In-depth examination of the end of the baby boom and what it means for younger Americans.
The U.S. is undergoing a great demographic shift. The population explosion of 1946-1964—which required California to open a new school every week through the 1950s, at enormous cost—resulted in a generation that vastly outnumbered its predecessors. Thus the 1960s youth culture, Woodstock, and yuppies. Now, writes Washington Post political columnist Bump, the numbers are changing significantly. “By 2025,” he writes, “most boomers will be aged 65 or over; five years later, they all will [be]. In 2030, boomers are projected to make up about 17 percent of the population, the lowest density since 1955. And, of course, it descends from there.” Many of those boomers cling desperately to power and privilege, often to the detriment of younger generations. There are complications in the picture, though. For one thing, the homegrown boomers were joined, half a century ago, by a huge influx of baby boomer immigrants, swelling their numbers and moderating the present conservative vote. For another, the supposed liberal wave that will supplant boomer conservatives will take time to arrive. While immigrants and their children will indeed make the U.S. a minority-majority country, it will take an extra decade to amass enough citizens with voting rights to make a difference. Regardless, things change, and “for many boomers, those changes seem to be very much not OK.” Consequently, White nationalism and White fear will endure, troubling an already fractious politics. For all that, Bump notes, Trump carried boomers by only 3%, and the Republican brand is going to pay for it. As the author also shows, states demographically most like the future America went overwhelmingly for Biden, those most like the moribund past America, for Trump.
Less crystal ball than projection of probabilities, but rewarding, provocative reading for students of demographic trends.