RETIREMENT GOES BOOM

By Published on .

Death and taxes may be the two sure bets in life, but there's a distinctly 21st century corollary emerging: One may put off death until later in life, but that just means more years for taxes, albeit perhaps at a lower rate. If you guessed that the Baby Boom is front and center in the emergence of this corollary you'd be right on the money. Almost half of Boomers are already itching to get into the rule book on aging and retirement to make strategic changes in a few items like “when you die� and “how to afford those extra years until that happens.�

Baby Boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — have poured into each life stage since birth, their numbers have changed wholesale what it meant to be babies, toddlers, kids, 'tweens, teens, twentysomethings, and young- and middle-aged adults. It makes a lot of sense, then, that since they number 76 million and represent more than a quarter of the nation's population, that they're going to continue to reinvent institutions like the economy, culture and society as they creep up into the twilight of their career years, and begin contemplating retirement. We thought it timely to field insights and attitudes just when Boomers are ferociously putting retirement financial plans into place, or coming to the realization that, to them, 65 just may be the new 55.

In six years and nine months, the first Boomers will reach what has been long considered the official age of retirement. During the years 2011 to 2029, the size of the over-65 population in this country will double, and it's a safe bet that by the end of that 18-year stretch, today's life-expectancy of 75.6 years will be little more than a historical curiosity, as more and more of us blow past 80 as we steam our way to the century mark.

That's good news and bad news, for the massive size that has been Boomers' advantage through so many years of their lives turns into a financial challenge in the latter years, according to an online survey of 854 adults conducted the second week of February exclusively for American Demographics by Chicago-based research firm Ipsos U.S. Express. Boomers between the ages of 40 and 58 in the workforce are being succeeded by a Generation X group that is 35 percent smaller, and whose peak earning years won't generate nearly the same economic benefits Boomers will have contributed. Generation Y, which equals the Baby Boom in size, will only be in their late 30s and early 40s some 10 years short of the peak of their wage earning careers.

Boomers, our survey shows, are well aware of their financial plight. As many as 45 percent of respondents between 40 and 58 years old said they were less than confident that their funds would last them the length of their retirement. In contrast, 65 percent of the “War Babies� generation respondents born in the years preceding the Baby Boom said they were at least somewhat confident in their financial security.

Look, too, at the polarity between Boomers and War Babies' attitudes toward their methods of retirement planning. Half of Boomers responded that investments in stocks, bonds and real estate would provide retirement funds. A stunning 73 percent of respondents age 59 or older planned to support themselves with the money they receive from Social Security.

It could be that Boomers, by necessity, will be trailblazers, creating a new life stage that Larry Cohen of Princeton, N.J.-based SRI Consulting Business Intelligence, calls “Revolving-Retirement.� Members of this life stage would be the heads of neither, “households living off their assets as in traditional retirement nor the households that focus on asset accumulation associated with preretirement.�

As many as 30 percent of Boomers expect to work until they reach age 66, at a minimum. In November 1979, a National Commission on Social Security reported that 9 percent of its 1,549 respondents expected to work past the age of 65. Our research also showed that many Boomers plan to rethink their career and perhaps change industries for the latter stages of their worklife. If 45 percent of the Baby Boom indicate now that they're apt to jump industries into a new career, it could impact the job market and Boomers' wherewithal.


For more information, send an e-mail to creynolds@primediabusiness.com.

In this article:
Most Popular