GLOBAL GENERATION GAP

By Published on .

Are all Baby Boomers and Echo Boomers around the world alike? Do the values and attitudes of Boomers in the Netherlands mirror those of their American counterparts? To be sure, “Boomers� and “Echo Boomers� are distinctly American definitions. However, a study released in December 2001 attempts to answer whether it's possible to draw generational analogies across international borders.

“Generations & Gaps� is based on a survey of 2,300 respondents between the ages of 18 and 56 from more than two dozen countries, conducted online during July and August 2001 by research firm InsightExpress for advertising agency Euro RSCG Worldwide. The sample sizes within each country are very small, with approximately 100 to 250 people polled per territory. The results, which vary from country to country, cohort to cohort, reveal some interesting differences and commonalities. For example, while about half of French, American and Hong Kong Baby Boomers say they'd rather live a simple life than be rich and famous, only 3 in 10 Canadian Boomers and one-third of Mexican Boomers agree.

The study divides respondents into four generational groups — “Core Boomers� (born between 1946 and 1954), “Cuspers� (born 1954 to 1964), “Gen Xers� (born 1965 to 1974) and “Echo Boomers� (born 1975 to 1994) — highlighting similarities and differences on a range of political, social, cultural and lifestyle topics. The report pays particular attention to the two largest and most dominant generations worldwide: Core Boomers and their offspring, the Echo Boomers. To that end, the study was supplemented by an additional 200 international in-person interviews with these two groups.

The so-called generation gap does seem to exist, according to the survey's findings, but it varies by country. In America, where celebrity culture reigns supreme among the teenybopper set, the study found that Echo Boom respondents are in fact more inclined than Core Boomers to wish for personal fame. Only 4 in 10 Echo Boomers surveyed say they'd forgo fame for a life of simplicity and quiet, compared with almost half of Core Boomers. However, in France, Mexico and Canada, the opposite seems to be true. Proportionately, more Echo Boomers than Core Boomers polled in each of these countries agree with the statement, “I would rather lead a simple life than be rich and famous.�

But while generational differences exist within each nation, there is some international common ground. For example, in every country surveyed, both Core and Echo Boomers agree that “life in 2001 is more stressful than life in 1951� (although how much the Echo Boomers, all born at least 25 years after the mid-century mark, know about the “good old days� is open to debate). Still, Core Boomers overwhelmingly agree with the statement in greater numbers, in some countries by margins of almost 2 to 1. For example, in the UK, 44 percent of younger respondents agree that life is more stressful now, compared with 89 percent of their elders.

Young people around the world also seem unanimously self-flagellating. In every country but France, the majority of Echo Boomers surveyed agree that “the morality of young people has gotten worse in their country over the course of their lifetime.� In America, for instance, 8 in 10 Echo Boomers accuse younger generations of moral laxity, while only 65 percent of their parents' generation assign young people the blame. “In many of the more Westernized, more modern countries, you see patterns of the older Boomers being more liberal, and the next generation a bit more conservative,� says Marian Salzman, Euro's worldwide director of strategic planning and co-director of the study.

One potential cause of such dissolution? Around the world, fewer Echo Boomers than Core Boomers agree with the sunny statement, “Most people I know in my age group grew up in a loving, stable family environment.� The largest generation gap on this issue appears to be in France, where 27 percent of Echoes agree with the statement, compared with 100 percent of the Core Boomers polled in the study. However, in Australia, the two groups have more similar mindsets on the matter: 52 percent of young Aussie respondents say that most of their peers grew up in a stable family environment and 43 percent of the country's Core Boomers agree. Perhaps the next buzz phrase on the pundit circuit will be “traditional Australian family values.�


For more information, contact Peggy Nahmany at (212) 886-2041.

WORLDWIDE COHORTS

Baby Boomers around the world long for the simpler days of the 1950s.

UK NETHERLANDS FRANCE MEXICO USA CANADA AUSTRALIA HONG KONG
PERCENT WHO AGREE THAT: CORE ECHO CORE ECHO CORE ECHO CORE ECHO CORE ECHO CORE ECHO CORE ECHO CORE ECHO
Today's emphasis on work is a bad thing. People need to slow down and enjoy life more 56% 73% 50% 94% 50% 82% 100% 28% 54% 57% 43% 65% 50% 81% 50% 50%
I would rather lead a simple life than be rich and famous 44% 32% 38% 22% 50% 64% 33% 38% 49% 40% 29% 35% 25% 19% 50% 50%
Life in 2001 is more stressful than life in 1951 89% 44% 75% 61% 100%* 55% 100%* 79% 74% 52% 71% 48% 75% 65% 100% 65%
The morality of young people has gotten worse in my country over the course of my lifetime 70% 78% 61% 67% 62% 36% 67% 72% 65% 80% 70% 65% 38% 74% 50% 80%
Most people I know in my age group grew up in a loving, stable family environment 89% 37% 63% 39% 100%* 27% 67% 45% 52% 32% 86% 44% 63% 52% 100% 60%
* Generational group samples in some countries were as small as 25-30 people

Note: Core=Core Boomers; Echo=Echo Boomers
Source: “Generations and Gaps� Euro RSCG Worldwide
In this article:
Most Popular