Chapter 17: Benefits of a Career in the Insurance Industry | Article

History of Insurance—Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers represent the largest US generation ever. The generation began in 1946 when the first babies were born to American servicemen and women returning home after World War II. Baby Boomers will have an impact on the insurance industry just as they affected the demand for consumer products, housing, roads and bridges, energy, and other wants and needs.

When World War II ended in 1945, the US had millions of servicemen and women, called GIs, who returned home. These returning GIs got married, bought homes, and started families. As a result, millions of babies were born in a "baby boom." The baby boom is generally considered to have started in 1946 and ended in 1964. Those born during the baby boom are called Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers have influenced our country socially, politically, geographically, and economically. On the economic front, their impact was felt as soon as the first Baby Boomers were in diapers. Baby furniture and toys were in high demand. Growing families sought better homes, which caused dramatic growth in construction. As Baby Boomers entered elementary schools, new schools and more teachers were needed to accommodate their numbers.

When the Baby Boomers hit their teen years, they were contributing about $20 billion to the economy every year. They were buying clothes, food, and music at a phenomenal pace.

As families of Baby Boomers migrated to the suburbs for more space, businesses followed. Suburban shopping malls appeared. Families bought second cars to manage longer trips in the suburbs between home, work, schools, and shopping. As the American standard of living increased and consumer demand grew, businesses found ways to meet the demand. This was the era of the radar range (known today as the microwave oven), washer and dryer, and television set.

Fast-forward to the retirement years of the Baby Boomers. Most Baby Boomers felt the impact of the Great Recession. The value of retirement investments plummeted, forcing many to set a later retirement date. But, other Baby Boomers choose to stay in the workforce past normal retirement age because they want to.

As a direct result of the Great Recession, Baby Boomers are looking for financial solutions that will not lose value, to guarantee income for life. They want products that will cover the cost of long-term care if they need it. Also, Baby Boomers want help figuring out how to transfer their wealth to the next generation. Experts estimate that $41 trillion in wealth transfer will occur over the next twenty years. Insurance companies that understand these needs and prepare for them will be the next industry to benefit from the size of the Baby Boomer generation and its wealth.

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