NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Those Born In Depression Retiring Now

May 15, 2001

Census data show that only a relatively small number of Americans are now reaching retirement age. They are people who were born in the Great Depression -- and they learned the value of saving. They also invested in real estate when it was cheap and saw its value skyrocket.

So many of them are in great financial shape.

  • The number of Americans ages 65 to 74 grew from 18.1 million in 1990 to only 18.4 million in 2000.
  • That's the smallest growth ever recorded for this group in the history of the census.
  • However, the number of Americans in the 45-54 age group grew from 25.2 million to 37.7 million in the same period.
  • The smaller group of men and women born during the Depression account for the rosy outlook of the federal budget -- because they are only collecting a fraction of what is available in the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

The Depression generation invested in stocks in such large numbers that some experts say their investing drove the bull market of the 1990s. Experts say that those who turned 65 in the last decade lived within their means and weren't as addicted to credit cards as the Baby Boomers have been.

While the boomers are struggling to achieve the same standard of living their parents had, their balance sheets are not as strong and they carry larger levels of debt.

Source: Jennifer Sergent, "Baby Boom Retirees Few For Now, Census Finds," Washington Times, May 15, 2001.


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