NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 12, 2007

Two new reports portray aging baby boomers as better educated, with higher incomes and longer life expectancies than the generations that preceded them. They also have fewer children and are less likely to be married, leaving them with fewer options if they need help in their old age.

According to William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, higher rates of divorce and separation could result in greater financial hardship for aging baby boomers:

  • In 1980, about two-thirds of Americans age 55 to 64 lived in married-couple households; that percentage fell to less than 58 percent in 2005.
  • Americans had been retiring at ever-younger ages since the growth of private pensions and Social Security began more than 50 years ago; however, the retirement trend appears to be reversing.

According to the Census Bureau:

  • In 1950, nearly half of men 65 and older were still in the labor force.
  • That percentage bottomed out in the 1980s at less than 16 percent.
  • It has since edged up to about 19 percent, and experts believe it will increase even more as the oldest baby boomers reach 65.

Women work in much larger numbers earlier in life, but among those 65 and older, their participation in the labor force has remained steady at about 10 percent since 1950.

There are about 78 million baby boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964. The oldest will turn 62 next year, the age at which they become eligible for Social Security benefits.

Some will continue working by choice -- a government survey shows that most U.S. workers nearing retirement age want to gradually reduce their workload rather than abruptly stop.

Source: Stephen Ohlemacher, "Boomers expected to put off retiring," Charlotte Observer, June 12, 2007.


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